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Sri Lankan ex-president fleeing home country leaves Singapore

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BANGKOK (AP) – Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled anti-government protests in his country last month, has left Singapore, immigration officials said on Thursday.

The one-sentence announcement on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s website did not provide their destination, but officials in Thailand said on Wednesday they had been asked by the Sri Lankan government to allow them entry, and they were allowed to stay temporarily. will be given. ,

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he was aware of Rajapaksa’s intended visit and that it was allowed for humanitarian reasons as the former president was seeking asylum in a third country. He did not elaborate.

Rajapaksa has not made any public comment about his travel plans. After escaping from Sri Lanka last month, he first flew to the neighboring Maldives by a Sri Lankan military plane and then to Singapore. He submitted his resignation only after leaving Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans have held massive street protests for months, demanding democratic reforms and a solution to the country’s economic collapse.

Protesters who took over official offices and residences in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo have blamed mismanagement and corruption by the Rajapaksa family for the economic crisis, leading to severe shortages of essentials such as medicines, food and fuel. The island nation is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout program.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tani Sangrat said on Wednesday that Rajapaksa’s stay is “of a temporary nature for the purpose of onward travel. No political asylum has been sought.” He declined to say on Thursday whether the former president had arrived in Thailand.

In addition to criticism for the mismanagement of his country’s economy, Rajapaksa has been accused of involvement in war crimes by human rights groups when he was defense secretary during Sri Lanka’s civil war, which ended in 2009.

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