Out, then not out; Sri Lanka Speaker retracts his own statement on president’s whereabouts

- economynext.com

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena retracted his own statement on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s whereabouts after saying the embattled leader left the country and is now on a nearby country.

Abeywardena, who is now tipped to be the acting president once Rajapaksa resigns on Wednesday, told BBC World Service that he has staying “somewhere outside…in a nearby country”.

“He will come back on Wednesday, he will be there. He told me that he will be stepping down on July 13.”

He later said for security reason he could not divulge the exact location of the president.

However, within a few hours, Abeywardena retracted his statement and said he had mistakenly told the BBC.

“President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country. I made a mistake in the (BBC) interview,” Speaker Abeywardena told ANI in telephone call

Yapa’s statement raised concerns internationally as many countries wanted to know if any country has given Rajapaksa asylum as he fled the country before tens of thousands of protesters stormed into the president’s official house on Saturday (09).

The protesters had been demanding for Rajapaksa’s resignation for the past three months for his failures to ensure essential supplies amid a financial crisis.

The concerns were raised after an Indian ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Subramanian Swamy in his twitter feed said India must give military, if Rajapaksa requests.

“Both Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksha were elected in a free election with thumping majority. How can India allow a mob to overturn such a legitimate election? Then no democratic country in our neighbourhood will be safe. If Rajapaksa wants India’s military help we must give,” he said.

The Indian High Commission Colombo, however, said it “would like to categorically deny speculative reports in sections of media and social media about India sending her troops to Sri Lanka. These reports and such views are also not in keeping with the position of the Government of India.” (Colombo/July 11/2022)

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