Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN)Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the crisis-hit island nation last month amid mass protests, is expected to return to the country next week, according to a senior minister.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told CNN late Wednesday the Sri Lankan government had been told of Rajapaksa’s return “through diplomatic channels.”
“Officially we have no role in the return. He is a citizen of Sri Lanka and can travel as he wishes,” Sabry said.
Rajapaksa’s estranged cousin Udayanga Weeratunga, a former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, told reporters Wednesday the former leader would return on August 24.
He tendered his resignation from Singapore, while public anger grewover his alleged mismanagement of the economy.
The former leader’s hurried exit was a historic moment for the nation of 22 million, which members of the Rajapaksa family ruled with an iron fist for much of the past two decades.
Anger has been growing in Sri Lanka for months after the country’s foreign exchange reserves plummeted to record lows, with dollars running out to pay for essential imports including food, medicine and fuel.
His departure came during a day of chaos and violence that culminated in police imposing a curfew across the country.