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Thailand Next Stop for Lanka’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Stay Temporary, Not Political Asylum, Say Authorities

By: Abhishek Jha

News18.com

Last Updated: August 10, 2022, 20:59 IST

New Delhi, India

It has been a month since Rajapaksa fled the country amid mounting pressure from the Sri Lankan protesters.  (Twitter File)

It has been a month since Rajapaksa fled the country amid mounting pressure from the Sri Lankan protesters. (Twitter File)

After a hush-hush stopover in the Maldives, Rajapaksa, along with his other family members, moved to Singapore, where he has been living since

The Sri Lankan government has requested Thailand to allow former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter the island country.

It has been a month since Rajapaksa fled the country amid mounting pressure from the Sri Lankan protesters.

After a hush-hush stopover in the Maldives, Rajapaksa, along with his other family members, moved to Singapore, where he has been living since.

Responding to a media query on the visit of Rajapaksa to Thailand, Tanee Sangrat, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said, “The Thai side received a request for the former President to enter Thailand from the current government of Sri Lanka. The consideration was based on long-standing and cordial ties between the two countries.”

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The spokesperson also added that the stay is “temporary with the aim of onward travel” and “no political asylum has been sought” by the former president of Sri Lanka.

CAN ENTER WITHOUT VISA

Rajapaksa still holds a diplomatic passport which, as per the 2013 agreement on visa exemption between Sri Lanka and Thailand, automatically allows him to enter Thailand without a visa for a period of 90 days.

Speculations were rife about Rajapaksa’s possible return to Lanka after the country’s cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena recently remarked that “Gotabaya wishes to return to his homeland”.

Local media in Singapore has reported that the short-term visit pass issued by the Singapore government to Rajapaksa expires on August 11. The former President had received the short-term pass when he arrived in Singapore. However, such passes are also eligible for an extension.

IN SINGAPORE

Rajapaksa, along with his close family members and associates, landed in Singapore on July 14, a day after fleeing his crisis-ridden country via the Maldives and resigned from his post after seeing no let-up in protests against him and his other family members.

Recently responding to a query on Rajapaksa’s stay in Singapore, the country’s Foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan had said that no special treatment has been extended to the former Sri Lanka President. “In general, the Singapore Government does not accord privileges, immunity and hospitality to former Heads of State or Heads of Government. Consequently, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not accorded any privileges, immunity or hospitality,” the minister said.

WICKREMESINGHE AS PREZ

After the departure of Rajapaksa from the political scene in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the President, defeating Dullas Alahapperuma in a parliamentary vote. Although a political rival, Wickremesinghe is believed to be sympathetic to the Rajapaksas.

Amid economic crisis, high inflation and shortage of essential household commodities, Sri Lanka has been reeling under mass protests for months. The protesters were demanding radical changes in the political system of the country and the ouster of members of the Rajapaksa family, which is largely being blamed for the economic mismanagement and large-scale corruption in the country, from key government posts.

Wickremesinghe, who was the only member of his party in the parliament, got elected to the post of President with the support of Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujuna Peramuna (SLPP).

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first published:August 10, 2022, 20:47 IST
last updated:August 10, 2022, 20:59 IST
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