Ousted Sri Lankan president arrives in Thailand

Ousted Sri Lankan president arrives in Thailand

Gotabaya Rajapaksa lands in Bangkok after Singapore visa expires

Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa prepares to enter a car after arriving at Don Mueang airport on Thursday evening. (Reuters Photo)
Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa prepares to enter a car after arriving at Don Mueang airport on Thursday evening. (Reuters Photo)

Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled his country a month ago, arrived in Bangkok on Thursday evening for what the Thai government says will be a temporary stay.

Mr Rajapaksa arrived at Don Mueang Airport around 8pm via a chartered plane from Seletar Airport in Singapore.

He arrived in Bangkok on the same day that his visa in Singapore expired.

Mr Rajapaksa had fled Sri Lanka for Singapore on July 14 amid protracted public unrest over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. He resigned from office shortly after he arrived in the city-state.

Mr Rajapaksa is expected to stay temporarily in Thailand and had no intention of seeking political asylum.

“This is a humanitarian issue and there is an agreement that it’s a temporary stay,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters on Wednesday.

Gen Prayut also said Mr Rajapaksa could not participate in any political activities while in Thailand.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the current Sri Lankan government supported Mr Rajapaksa’s trip to Thailand, adding that the former president’s diplomatic passport would allow him to stay for up to 90 days.

The source said Rajapaksa planned a short stay in Thailand and would return to Singapore.

The Rajapaksa confidant told AFP that the former leader was keen to go home as protests against his administration had fizzled out, but his successor Ranil Wickremesinghe had advised him against an early return.

Mr Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka.

An international human rights group last month formally asked Singapore to indict Mr Rajapaksa for crimes against humanity during his country’s decades-long civil war that ended in 2009

The South Africa-based International Truth and Justice Project said it had urged Singapore to exercise universal jurisdiction to arrest the former president for grave breaches of international humanitarian law.

Mr Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka’s defence ministry while his brother Mahinda was president when the country’s brutal Tamil separatist conflict came to a bloody end.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers in Singapore confirmed it had received a complaint from the rights group without giving details.


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