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Thursday, December 01, 2022

US ‘rejects’ Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visa application after recent overthrow by mass protests

After securing a landslide victory in 2019, Gotabaya has become arguably the country’s most unpopular leader amid a severe economic crisis.

After securing a landslide victory in 2019, Gotabaya has become arguably the country’s most unpopular leader amid a severe economic crisis.

The United States has rejected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s recent visa application, the hindu learns from a top official, amid growing speculation about the country’s beleaguered leader’s “escape attempts” after promising to step down.

Gotabaya, a former Sri Lankan and US citizen, renounced US citizenship ahead of the 2019 elections because of a law that barred foreigners from running for president. He won the election with an overwhelming majority but became arguably the country’s most unpopular leader mid-term, amid a severe economic meltdown that is choking citizens.

“He sought safe passage to the US after recent events but was denied,” the Colombo official said Tuesday. Gotabaya’s reported attempt to leave the island follows his decision to resign, prompted by a sensational citizen protest on Saturday. Resisting their failed response to the unprecedented economic crisis plaguing the island, a wave of protesters stormed the Presidential Secretariat and the residence in Colombo in a dramatic escalation of months-long protests demanding that Gotabaya “come home”. He was evacuated from his official residence hours before the incident, officials said. However, his whereabouts have remained unknown since then.

When the hindu asked for comment from the US Embassy in Colombo, a spokesperson said: “Visa records are confidential under US law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”

In a statement on Sunday, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung urged all parties “to cooperate to achieve a peaceful and democratic transition of power”. This signaled a clear shift in the US stance just a month ago, when President Gotabaya appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, disregarding widespread citizen unrest, to prolong the life of his government that most Sri Lankans considered. unsustainable. “I look forward to working with @RW_UNP. His appointment as prime minister and the rapid formation of an inclusive government are the first steps towards addressing the crisis and promoting stability. We encourage significant progress at the IMF and long-term solutions that meet the needs of all Sri Lankans,” the ambassador said in a tweet on 12 May.

Where is Gota?

Meanwhile, Gotabaya, who is expected to officially resign on July 13, is said to be exploring other options, according to sources in Colombo. It was widely reported that Mr. Gotabaya was heading to a West Asian country on Monday for immediate safety, fearing further reprisals in Sri Lanka. AFP on Tuesday reported that he was “stuck” in Colombo on Tuesday, his last day in the country’s top job with presidential immunity.

Mr. Gotabaya was unable to leave after a standoff with immigration staff at the airport, who resisted his attempt to leave for a safe location abroad, supposedly a Gulf capital. Immigration officials suspended their services in the VIP suite.

“The president and his wife spent the night at a military base next to the main international airport after missing four flights that could have taken them to the UAE.” AFP said in its report. When contacted, an official with the Presidential Media Division declined to comment on the president’s current location.

Speaker of the parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena previously told the BBC that the president was in a “near country”, but quickly retracted the comment calling it “a mistake”.

Gotabaya’s younger brother and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa was also barred from leaving the capital after the immigration team refused to stamp his documents. Mr. Basil has dual Sri Lankan and US citizenship

The option to flee appears to have become more difficult for Basil and his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, a two-time president and former prime minister, after a motion filed in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday. The petitioners called for a travel ban for them, along with others, “responsible” for the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

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