Ousted Sri Lankan leader to visit Bangkok from Singapore

Ousted Sri Lankan leader to visit Bangkok from Singapore

No asylum bid by Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa

Gotabaya Rajapaksa (left) sings the national anthem during the country's 74th Independence Day celebrations in Colombo on Feb 4, 2022. He resigned as president in July after fleeing the country. (Reuters photo)
Gotabaya Rajapaksa (left) sings the national anthem during the country's 74th Independence Day celebrations in Colombo on Feb 4, 2022. He resigned as president in July after fleeing the country. (Reuters photo)

The Thai government will allow Sri Lanka's ousted president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to stay temporarily in Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the media on Wednesday that permission was granted for humanitarian reasons.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Mr Rajapaksa may arrive in Thailand on Thursday, after temporarily staying in Singapore.

He said Mr Rajapaksa will enter the kingdom with a diplomatic passport which will allow the holder to stay in the kingdom for up to 90 days. Mr Rajapaksa will manage his own accommodation.

Asked if Thailand could deny Mr Rajapaksa entry, Mr Don said Thailand was able to but the government believed his stay would not cause any trouble for the country.

In addition, the Sri Lankan government did not oppose the decision, he said.

Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat told the Bangkok Post that Thailand 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," Mr Tanee said.

"The stay is temporary in nature with the aim of onward travel. No political asylum has been sought," he said.

Mr Rajapaksa fled his island nation last month amid unprecedented unrest triggered by Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis in seven decades and days after thousands of protesters stormed the president's official residence and office.

The retired military officer landed in Singapore on July 14, via the Maldives. He then resigned from the presidency, becoming the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term.

Mr Rajapaksa has not made any public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka, and Singapore's government said this month that the city-state had not accorded him any privileges or immunity.

A member of the influential Rajapaksa family, the 73-year-old served in the Sri Lankan military and later as defence secretary.

During his time as defence secretary government forces finally defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 to end the Sri Lankan civil war. Some rights groups now want accusations that Mr Rajapaksa committed war crimes to be investigated. He denies the allegations.

Some critics and protesters also accuse Mr Rajapaksa and his family of mishandling the economy during his term as president, leading to the country's worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

His elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a former president and prime minister. Their younger sibling, Basil Rajapaksa, served as finance minister till earlier this year.

Mr Rajapaksa's successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has said previously the former president should refrain from returning to Sri Lanka in the near future.


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