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Sri Lanka ex-president Rajapaksa ordered to appear in court on Aug 1

Sri Lanka ex-president Rajapaksa ordered to appear in court on Aug 1
Former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sep 22, 2021 in New York City. (Justin Lane- Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has issued a notice to former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, ordering him to appear in court on Aug 1 for a petition linking him with the country’s economic crisis.

A Supreme Court official who declined to be named told CNA that the notice was issued on Wednesday (Jul 27) in relation to at least one of the petitions filed against politicians and civil servants, alleging that they are responsible for the economic crisis.

One of the respondents is Mr Rajapaksa, who fled the country earlier this month on a military aircraft amid mass protests demanding his resignation.

He is currently in Singapore, where he has been granted a 14-day extension of his short-term visit pass (STVP). CNA understands he can stay in the country until Aug 11 as a result of the extension.

The former president left Sri Lanka on Jul 13, after months of mass protests that blamed his government for the country’s worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948.

Sri Lankans have been increasingly overwhelmed with the soaring cost of living, driven by spiralling inflation and foreign exchange shortages.

The country is officially in default after failing to make debt interest payments in May. Its dwindling foreign currency has crippled the economy, disrupted imports and led to shortages of food, fuel and other essentials.

Mr Rajapaksa submitted his resignation letter from Singapore. He was replaced by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was elected by lawmakers last week.

Following Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation, tension has eased on the streets. However, a new wave of protests could sweep over the island nation once again if he decides to return.

“I was aware that he would return to the country,” media minister and Cabinet spokesperson Bandula Gunawardena said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"If he comes back and if it is necessary, the authorities will take necessary steps to ensure nothing bad happens to the former president.”

The spokesperson stated that Mr Rajapaksa is not “hiding” in Singapore.

“He is there with a visa like other people do,” he added.

Source: CNA/pp(aw)


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