Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Bangkok on Thursday after his Singaporean visa expired after fleeing his mansion seized by protesters in Colombo and taking refuge there.
The ousted president arrived on a private plane that landed at Don Mueang International Airport, a senior Thai official said. According to local media, he and his wife left the VIP suite at the airport about forty minutes later and got into a black car.
“As the former president holds a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport, he can enter Thailand without a visa and stay for up to ninety days,” a spokesperson for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to the media. “The accommodation is temporary before another trip,” he added. That means leaving Thailand by asserting that you “did not apply for political asylum”.
Due to the severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on 9 July after tens of thousands of protesters besieged his official residence.
After a stopover in the Maldives, he arrived in Singapore on July 14, where he tendered his resignation. The authorities extended his residence permit every 14 days till August 11.
A source close to the former president told AFP from Colombo: “He again requested an extension of his stay but did not receive a response until Wednesday morning.”
His plan is to return to Singapore after a short stay in Thailand, the source added.
AFP was unable to contact the Sri Lankan embassy in Singapore, which supported Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s plan to stay in the country.
A close associate of the 73-year-old Rajapakse told AFP that the former president was ready to return to his country as protests against his rule subsided, but current President Ranil Wickremesinghe advised him to wait.
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