AP

Sri Lankan ex-president who fled homeland arrives in Bangkok

Aug 10, 2022, 5:31 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2022, 8:47 am

Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, walks to a waiting vehicle outside the Don ...

Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, walks to a waiting vehicle outside the Don Mueaung airport in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. Rajapaksa, who last month fled anti-government protests in his country, has left Singapore, immigration authorities there said Thursday. (AP Photo/Tananchai Keawsowattana)

(AP Photo/Tananchai Keawsowattana)

BANGKOK (AP) — Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who last month fled anti-government protests in his country, arrived in Thailand on Thursday night on a flight from Singapore, where he had been staying since mid-July.

Thai television stations showed Rajapaksa and a woman believed to be his wife outside the VIP hall at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport being led to a limousine, which then drove off to an undisclosed destination.

Officials in Thailand on Wednesday said they had been asked by the Sri Lankan government to allow him entry, and that he would be permitted to stay temporarily.

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

Rajapaksa has made no public comments about his travel plans. After fleeing Sri Lanka last month, he first went to neighboring Maldives in a Sri Lankan military plane and then to Singapore, where his visa expired Thursday. He submitted his resignation only after he left Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans have staged massive street protests for months demanding democratic reforms and solutions to the country’s economic collapse.

Protesters who had occupied official offices and residences in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, blame mismanagement and corruption by the Rajapaksa family for the economic crisis that has led to serious shortages of essentials such as medicines, food and fuel. The island nation is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout program.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat said Wednesday that Rajapaksa’s “stay is temporary in nature with the aim of onward travel. No political asylum has been sought.” He said that because the former president held a diplomatic passport, he would be allowed to stay for 90 days without a visa.

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

6 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

6 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

7 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

7 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

7 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

10 days ago

Sri Lankan ex-president who fled homeland arrives in Bangkok