In Sri Lanka, voices call for the trial of the ousted president back from exile

In Sri Lanka, voices call for judgment on ousted president returning from exile

Sri Lanka's ousted president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was greeted at the airport by members of his party on his return from exile. He had fled the country on July 13, four days after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence.

Voices were raised in Sri Lanka on Saturday demanding the appearance in court against deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the day after his return from abroad where he had fled in July in the face of demonstrations, judging him responsible for the country's bankruptcy.

Gotabaya came back because no country wants him, he has no place to hide, Joseph Stalin, head of a teachers' union, told AFP who helped mobilize protesters.

“He should be arrested immediately for causing such misery to Sri Lanka's 22 million people . He should be prosecuted for his crimes.

—Joseph Stalin, head of a teachers' union

The government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which lost its presidential immunity after leaving office, has been accused of running the country chaotically as the Sri Lankan economy deteriorated.

< p class="e-p">The country of 22 million people has been ravaged for months by a historic economic crisis, marked by severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine, due to a lack of foreign currency to finance imports.

He cannot live freely as if nothing had happened, said Stalin, named after the former Soviet leader by his father, a left-wing activist.

Human rights activists said they welcome his return and said they would work to get him arrested for the crimes he committed.

We will be able to bring him to justice, Tharindu Jayawardhana, spokesperson for the Young Journalists Association of Sri Lanka, told AFP.

The The former president must answer for the crimes of his presidency, a former minister from the opposition bloc Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) told the press, but he did not comment on it. instant.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 73, elected in 2019 promising horizons of prosperity and splendour, has seen his popularity ratings dwindle as the crisis unfolds. x27;worse.

He fled the island on July 13, four days after his official residence was stormed by tens of thousands of protesters exasperated by months of deprivation. He took refuge first in the Maldives, then in Singapore, from where he announced his resignation.

His visa having expired, he then found himself in Thailand, where local authorities had asked him not to leave his hotel for security reasons, keeping him virtually under arrest.

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Mr. Rajapaksa eventually chose to return to Colombo where he was greeted by ministers with flower garlands on Friday, before being escorted to his new official residence made available to him by the government.

< p class="e-p">The current government is indeed dependent on the support of Mr. Rajapaksa's party, the Sri Lanka Podjana Peramuna (SLPP), to govern, and in particular to support the austerity budget that he voted on Friday, a mandatory condition for obtaining support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Gotabaya's return shows that his party is still strong, despite the turmoil. humiliation they suffered, Hasith Kandaudahewa, professor of international relations at the University of Colombo, told AFP.

But this return, badly welcomed by the population, risks weakening the position of the new government, he believes.

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