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Ousted president returns to Sri Lanka seven weeks after he fled

The country’s ex-president is back just seven weeks after his escape from Sri Lanka.

After protesters stormed his office and home, Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled in July.

He was accompanied by his wife and two bodyguards when he boarded an Air Force plane heading for the Maldives. From there, he continued on to Singapore, where he officially resigned, before boarding a Thai air force plane to Thailand.

Image: Gotabaya Rajapaksa

He wanted to leave Sri Lanka before he resigned. However, presidents of Sri Lanka are not protected while they are in power.

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On Saturday, Mr Rajapaksa arrived at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport from Bangkok.

Due to the economic crisis, staples like cooking oil, fuel and medicine have been in short supply for months. The foreign debt is more than PS44bn. Of this, PS24bn must be repaid by 2027.

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More information about Sri Lanka

Many blame Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic as contributing factors. However, many blame Rajapaksa for mismanaging the economy and tipping the economy into crisis.

His brother, Rajapaksa, resigned as prime Minister, while three family members were elected to the cabinet.

Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as President on Tuesday. He reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to provide a PS2.5bn rescue package over four years.

This package is designed to help Sri Lanka recover from its economic meltdown.

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