A Sri Lanka government spokesman and the president's office did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment on Rajapaksa's return.

The former president met with a group of ruling party members and lawmakers at the airport early on Saturday before being whisked to the residence allocated by the government.

A senior official said Rajapaksa has not indicated his plans.

"What he told us last night was that he needs some time as he wasn’t even allowed to step out of his room due to security reasons," one official said, adding Rajapaksa had not been allowed to go to the gym.

"Once he has spent some time at home he will let us know what he wants to do,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

Sri Lanka, grappling with one its worst economic crisis since independence, this week reached a staff level agreement with International Monetary Fund for a loan of $2.9 billion.