Rajapaksa not using state funds for expenses abroad, clarifies Sri Lankan govt

He arrived in Thailand last week after his two-week stay in Singapore

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Published: Wed 17 Aug 2022, 8:40 AM

Amidst the row surrounding the frequent travel of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to foreign countries, since his exit from power, the new Sri Lankan leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has come forward to clarify that the current government was not paying for the overseas stay, or expenses, of the former president, who had fled the country after violent protests.

This detail was given in a statement from the Government Information Department, as per a report from Sri Lanka's Newswire.

"All such expenses [are] borne by the personal funds of the former President," the statement added.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand last week, following his departure from Singapore. He was granted entry following a request from the Sri Lankan government, according to media reports.

He left Singapore last Thursday after nearly a month's stay there. The former president was issued a 14-day visit pass when he arrived at Singapore's Changi Airport from the Maldives last month, and was allowed to stay there for two weeks.

Thailand has denied reports that the former Sri Lankan President has sought asylum in the country. The Thailand Foreign Ministry said that it had received a request from Rajapaksa to visit the country with no intention of seeking political asylum.

"Thailand saw no problem with Rajapaksa entering on a diplomatic passport, which would allow him to stay [for] 90 days," the Daily Mirror reported, quoting Thailand Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat.

Thailand would be the second Southeast Asian country — after the Maldives — that he was seeking temporary shelter in, after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests.

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced Rajapaksa's official resignation on July 15. After that, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the President of Sri Lanka on July 21 — in the Parliament.

Wickremesinghe was earlier appointed as the interim president of Sri Lanka, as Rajapaksa fled abroad after his palace was stormed by angry protesters amid the unprecedented economic crisis.

Sri Lanka continues to face a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies, and is in the throes of its worst-ever economic crisis (with soaring inflation) since independence. The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice. The people of the island nation now await a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


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