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Sri Lanka's former leader "bound for Thailand"

2022-08-11 HKT 00:54
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  • Former Sri Lankan leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected in Thailand on Thursday, according to sources. File photo: AFP
    Former Sri Lankan leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected in Thailand on Thursday, according to sources. File photo: AFP
Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested entry into Thailand for a temporary stay in a second Southeast Asian country after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests, the Thai foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Rajapaksa fled to Singapore on July 14 following unprecedented unrest caused 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 then resigned from the presidency, becoming the first Sri Lankan head of state to quit mid-term.

Rajapaksa is expected to leave Singapore and head to Thailand's capital Bangkok on Thursday, two sources said, asking not to be named. Sri Lanka's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tanee Sangrat, a Thai foreign ministry spokesman, said Rajapaksa holds a diplomatic passport that allows him entry into the country for 90 days. He did not say when Rajapaksa intended to visit.

"The entry to Thailand by the former president of Sri Lanka is for a temporary stay," Sangrat said.

"The Sri Lankan side informs us that the former president has no intention for political asylum in Thailand and will travel to another country afterwards."

Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka, and Reuters was unable to immediately contact him.

Singapore's government said this month that the city state had not accorded him any privileges or immunity. (Reuters)