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A Fallen Dynasty Backs Sri Lanka’s Leader as Creditors Seek Answers

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has vowed to stabilize the nation’s economy. But some sense a wider plot to restore the Rajapaksa family to power.

A billboard that announces the return of ousted former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa who ended his self-imposed exile in Thailand and came back to the island, in Colombo on Sept. 4.

A billboard that announces the return of ousted former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa who ended his self-imposed exile in Thailand and came back to the island, in Colombo on Sept. 4.

Photographer: Amal Jayasinghe/AFP/Getty Images

After fleeing Sri Lanka and spending nearly two months in self-imposed exile, former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa returned this month to a freshly painted, heavily guarded colonial-style bungalow in one of the island’s swankiest neighborhoods.

Much has changed since demonstrators drove Rajapaksa from office in July, the climax of months of protests after record-high inflation and depleted currency reserves bankrupted a country with 22 million people.