Colombo [Sri Lanka], August 1 (ANI): Sri Lanka's President, Ranil Wickremesinghe Sunday said that it is not the right time for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the island nation, stressing that it could agitate the protesters who have been demanding the resignation of former President and holding him responsible for the country's financial crisis.
"I don't believe it's the time for him to return," he said. "I have no indication of him returning soon," DailyMirror reported, quoting the President as saying.
Speaking from his office in the Presidential Secretariat, which Wickremesinghe only moved into on Wednesday, the president underlined he expected the IMF staff-level agreement to be reached by the end of August, after which the country would be able to further talks with bilateral creditors to revive the nation's economy.
However, earlier on Tuesday, Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said Rajapaksa wasn't in hiding and was expected to return.
Notably, on July 9, Sri Lankan protesters broke into then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence and set it on fire, angered by the unprecedented economic crisis.
Rajapaksa left the country on a military aircraft bound for the Maldives on July 13, before travelling onward to Singapore where he resigned over email.
Following the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation, they stormed into the compound, tore down security cordons placed by police, took a dip in the swimming pool and romped through his kitchen and home.
Several journalists were also attacked by the security forces after which more protestors gathered in the area, Daily Mirror reported.Earlier, the police fired tear gas at the protesters but despite that, they entered his house and set the house on fire.
Following this, Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Prime Minister in May, announced his resignation from his post in order to ensure the continuation of the government and the safety of all the citizens.
However on July 21, following the resignation of then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka in Parliament before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya. He was elected as president in an election held in Parliament on July 20.
Notably, Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress and severely undermining the country's ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The protests came after the worsening economic situation in the country led to increasing tensions and reports of several confrontations between individuals and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations where thousands of desperate members of the public queued for hours and sometimes days amid the fuel crisis. (ANI)