Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested a temporary stay in Thailand but says he is not seeking asylum, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry. He is expected to leave Singapore on Thursday and travel to Thailand’s capital, Bangkok.
Rajapaksa fled to Singapore in mid-July after a series of mass protests erupted in the island nation amid the worst economic crisis of the past several decades. Thousands of people protested and marched through the streets of Sri Lanka and into the president’s residence and office.
Rajapaksa resigned in July, becoming the first Sri Lankan president to do so midterm.
Singapore's government said this month that the city-state had not accorded him any privileges or immunity.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat said Rajapaksa would be able to stay in Thailand for 90 days with his diplomatic passport.
“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.”
There have been no personal statements from Rajapaksa about his travel plans, nor has he made any public appearances since leaving Sri Lanka.
The former president’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has said Rajapaksa should not return to the country anytime soon.
A member of the influential Rajapaksa family, the 73-year-old served in the Sri Lankan military and later as defense secretary before moving into politics.