SL: Overseas travel ban on Mahinda, Basil Rajapaksa extended

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Wednesday extended until August 11 the overseas travel ban on former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, who are widely blamed for the current economic crisis in the island nation.

On August 1, the country’s apex court had extended until August 4 the overseas travel ban on Rajapaksa and his younger brother when a motion related to a petition requesting the court to issue an order for an investigation against the people responsible for the current economic crisis came up.

The petition by a group including former Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chandra Jayaratne, former Sri Lanka swimming champion Julian Bolling, Jehan Kanagaratna and Transparency International Sri Lanka, claimed that three persons — Basil, Mahinda and former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal — were directly responsible for the unsustainability of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt, its debt default and the current economic crisis leading to an acute shortage of basic commodities such as food, fuel, and medicines.

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On July 15, Sri Lanka’s apex court had barred the trio from leaving the country till July 28. The ban was later extended till August 2.

Earlier this month, Basil was prevented from leaving Sri Lanka following protests from passengers and officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport here.

Mahinda and Basil’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former Sri Lankan President, arrived in Singapore on July 14 on a “private visit” from the Maldives after he fled his country to escape a popular uprising against his government’s economic mismanagement.

Rajapaksa has been issued a new visa by Singapore, extending his stay in the country till August 11.

Sri Lanka has seen months of mass unrest over the worst economic crisis and many blame the former government led by Rajapaksa and his family for mishandling the island nation’s economy.

The government declared bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt.

The island nation of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.

Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

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