Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa applies for US citizenship

Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who left the crisis-marred country last month, has applied for citizenship with the US and is waiting to procure his Green Card, according to a media report.

The ousted president is looking to settle in the US with his wife and son, who are accompanying him on his run from Sri Lanka after widespread anti-government protests sought his resignation as the country plunged into its worst recession in decades.

According to the report, Mr Rajapaksa’s lawyers in Washington commenced the procedure of application for securing him a Green Card last month, sources aware of the matter said.

He is eligible to apply for citizenship as his wife Ioma Rajapaksa is a US citizen.

In the coming days, Mr Rajapaksa’s lawyers in Colombo will have to submit additional documents for the procedure, the Daily Mirror reported.

Mr Rajapaksa, who is living in a hotel in Thailand presently after fleeing on a military plane in July for Maldives and thereafter reaching Singapore, is expected to return to the country in the last week of August.

He is likely to cancel his initial plan of stay in Thailand at least till November, the report added.

The 73-year-old leader resigned after reaching Singapore in the backdrop of simmering public anger in Sri Lanka over his role in mismanagement of the country’s economy.

However, two days ago, he consulted his lawyers and decided to come back to Sri Lanka as he was facing problems in moving around in Thailand due to security concerns as initially expected, the report added.

Police officials in Thailand had advised Mr Rajapaksa to stay indoors during his stay in the country amid security concerns.

The Thai government has also asked Mr Rajapaksa to not engage in political activities while staying in the country.

The hotel where Mr Rajapaksa is staying has police officers from the Special Branch Bureau deployed in plainclothes to ensure the Sri Lankan leader’s safety, reported the Bangkok Post newspaper.

It is likely that the Sri Lankan cabinet will discuss providing the ousted leader a state house and security under the rules guiding arrangements for a former president, the report added.

His previous presidential house was stormed and occupied by protesting Sri Lankans in July.