Singapore on Thursday said it has allowed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter the city-state on a “private visit” and there was no request for asylum from him, a day after he fled the country in the face of public revolt against his government’s mishandling of the economy.
A Saudi airlines flight – SV 788 – carrying Rajapaksa landed at the Singapore Changi International Airport shortly after 7 pm (local time).
In response to the media queries, a spokesperson for Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that President Rajapaksa has been “allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit”.
He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum. Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum, the spokesperson added.
Rajapaksa, the 73-year-old leader who had promised to resign on Wednesday, appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting President hours after he fled the country, escalating the political crisis and triggering a fresh wave of protests in the island nation.
On Saturday, Rajapaksa had announced that he will step down on Wednesday after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees.
Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Thursday said that he is yet to receive the resignation letter from President Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president, fled the country without resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.
Rajapaksa’s escape to the Maldives was negotiated by the Maldivian Majlis (Parliament) Speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed, sources in the Maldives capital Male said.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country.