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‘Sri Lanka ex-leader Rajapaksa leaves Singapore’


By AFP
Published : 11 Aug 2022 11:42 PM | Updated : 11 Aug 2022 11:42 PM

Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Singapore Thursday, the city-state's immigration office said, after his social visit pass expired.

"The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) confirms that Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Singapore on 11 August 2022," the office said in reply to an AFP query.

It did not say where the former leader was headed to but the Thai foreign ministry, as well as a source in Colombo, said Wednesday he was seeking a new safe haven in Thailand. 

Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on July 13 and then to Singapore, where he announced his resignation after months of protests over Sri Lanka's economic meltdown.

Tens of thousands of people overran his official residence last month over acute shortages of food, fuel and medicine endured by Sri Lanka's 22 million people since late last year. 

"His Singapore visa runs out on Thursday," a close associate of Rajapaksa told AFP in Colombo.

"He had applied for an extension, but it had not come through as of Wednesday morning."

The source said Rajapaksa now planned to go to Thailand for a short stay and return to Singapore.

The Thai foreign ministry confirmed it had received a request from Colombo for the 73-year-old deposed leader to visit Thailand and an assurance that he would not seek political asylum there.

"The Thai side received a request for the former president to enter Thailand from the current government of Sri Lanka," ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said in a statement.

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

Sri Lankans arriving in Singapore get a 30-day visa, but Singapore authorities said they had initially given Rajapaksa only two weeks and later extended the visa by another two weeks. 

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