Sri Lanka's Gotabaya Rajapaksa expected to stay in Thailand

Sri Lanka's Gotabaya Rajapaksa expected to stay in Thailand

BANGKOK: Sri Lanka's former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is expected to arrive in Thailand on Thursday August 11 and stay temporarily in a second Southeast Asian country since fleeing his island nation last month in the midst of mass protests.

On July 14th, Rajapaksa fled to Singapore and resigned shortly after unrest over his administration's handling of the worst economic crisis in seven decades, and days after thousands of protesters stormed the president's official residence and office.

The former military officer, who is the first Sri Lankan head of state to quit mid-term, is expected to travel from Singapore to Thailand's capital, Bangkok on Thursday, two sources said. It was not clear what time he would arrive.

The Thai authorities said Rajapaksa had no intention of seeking political asylum and would stay only temporarily.

Prime Minister Prayuth Prayuth Chan-o- Cha told reporters on Wednesday that this is a humanitarian issue and there is an agreement that it is a temporary stay.

Prayuth said Rajapaksa could not participate in political activities while in Thailand.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the current 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 hasn't made any public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka, and Reuters was not able to contact him immediately.

Sri Lanka's economic crisis is a result of several factors including COVID - 19, which battered its tourism-reliant economy, slashed remittances from workers overseas, rising oil prices, populist tax cuts and a seven-month ban on the import of chemical fertilisers last year that devastated agriculture.