Sri Lanka’s ousted president arrives in Thailand for temporary stay


BANGKOK, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand on Thursday, according to three Reuters witnesses, as he sought temporary refuge in a second Southeast Asian country after being fled his island nation last month amid mass protests.

Rajapaksa arrived at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport on a chartered flight from Singapore after the city-state’s immigration authority announced in a statement on Thursday that he had left Singapore.

Rajapaksa is expected to stay in Thailand temporarily after fleeing Sri Lanka for Singapore on July 14. He resigned from office shortly after following unprecedented unrest over his government’s handling of the worst economic crisis in seven decades, and days after thousands of protesters stormed the President’s official. residence and office. Read more

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Thai authorities said the former military officer, who is the first Sri Lankan head of state to step down mid-term, had no intention of seeking political asylum and would only stay temporarily.

“This is a humanitarian issue and there is an agreement that this is a temporary stay,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Wednesday. Rajapaksa could not engage in any political activity while in Thailand, Prayuth said.

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

Rajapaksa has not made any public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka. Reuters was unable to contact him immediately.

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is the result of several factors, including COVID-19, which has hit its tourism-dependent economy and reduced workers’ remittances abroad, rising oil prices, populist tax cuts and a seven-month ban on the import of chemical fertilizers last year that devastated agriculture.

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Juarawee Kittisilpa in Bangkok, Chen Lin in Singapore; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Robert Birsel and Mike Harrison

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