Thailand says it received request from Sri Lankan ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter country

75
2
Thailand says it received request from Sri Lankan ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter country

CNN Thailand received a request from former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter the country, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Tanee Sangrat said in a social media post on Wednesday.

Rajapaksa is currently in Singapore after fleeing Sri Lanka in July amid mass anti-government protests, Sangrat said that as a holder of a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport, Rajapaksa can enter Thailand without a visa for up to 90 days, emphasizing that the stay is temporary and he is not seeking political asylum.

Sangrat did not mention when Rajapaksa planned to travel to Thailand.

Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on July 14, after fleeing Sri Lanka for Maldives on July 14, days after angry protesters stormed his official residence and office demanding he step down over his mismanagement of the economy. Rajapaksa then surrendered his resignation from Singapore.

Anger has been growing in Sri Lanka for months after the country's foreign exchange reserves plummeted to record lows, with dollars running out to pay for essential imports such as food, medicine and fuel.

The hurried exit of the former leader last month was a historic moment for the nation of 22 million, which the Rajapaksas had ruled with an iron fist for much of the past two decades before losing the faith of their citizens.

Rajapaksa is not the first member of the family to have been president. His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected to the top job in 2005 and achieved near legendary status in 2009 when he declared victory in the 26 year civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels.

At the time, Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as defense secretary, and the brothers were accused by rights groups of committing war crimes - allegations that the family denies.

Many Sri Lankans have accused the Rajapaksas of mishandling the country's economy.

After storming the presidential palace, thousands of jubilant Sri Lankans swam in the Gotabaya Rajapaksa's pool, sang in his dining room and danced around the opulent grounds of one of the country's most heavily guarded buildings.

In the days following Rajapaksa resigning, lawmakers elected former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as president, but anger remains as many protesters see him as being tied to the former leader's regime.

Wickremesinghe has appeared to distance himself from the Rajapaksas and told CNN last month that the previous government was covering up facts about its crippling financial crisis.