Back in Lanka, Gotabaya struggles to get support

After seven weeks, former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa finally returned to Colombo on September 2. He fled on July 13 after the nation witnessed huge protests over country’s worst economic crisis.He will be living in a state bungalow close to Wijerama Mawatha in Colombo while a large security contingency will be appointed to maintain security in the area.

“Former Presidents are accorded security and there are some other entitlements which will be extended to Gotabaya. Nearly all members of SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) went to the airport to receive him when he returned from Bangkok on a Singapore Airlines flight. His wife, Ioma, too returned with him. He looked visibly happy and relieved,’’ say sources.

Meanwhile, the support that Gotabaya received on his arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport indicates that his supporters from SLPP will try and garner support for him. Some sources suggest he might return to politics sometime.

Gotabaya is said to be waiting to get his US Green Card as both his wife and son are US citizens and Gotabaya had to surrender his citizenship when he became President. When he was trying to flee Colombo in July, he was desperate to go to the US but couldn’t as he could not manage a short-term visa.“His stay in Bangkok left him feeling very uneasy as he was confined to stay in the hotel due to security reasons. He was looking forward to returning to Colombo,’’ said sources.

Gotabaya is likely to lie low for some time, before he makes any statement or suggests which way he will head towards. However, his return triggered calls for his arrest. Leaders of the protest campaign that toppled his government said Rajapaksa should now be brought to justice.