Exiled Sri Lanka president expected to arrive in Thailand tomorrow

PHOTO: The former president of Sri Lanka is heading to Thailand tomorrow. (via BBC)

After angry mobs of protesters drove him out of Sri Lanka and into exile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is now planning to seek safe harbor in Thailand. According to two sources, he’s expected to arrive tomorrow after taking up temporary residence in Singapore for the past few weeks.

Last month, party leaders in Sri Lanka met and agreed to ask both the president and PM to resign due to an “overwhelming request” according to local lawmaker Rauff Hakeem. Citizens did more than request, however, when over 100,000 protesters, angry about the country’s worst economic crisis in 70 years, stormed the presidential palace on July 9 while simultaneously setting fire to his private residence.

Neither the prime minister nor the president were inside the house when the protestors set the fire, but a video shows the large crowd even swimming in the president’s swimming pool amid all the chaos and the president struggled to flee Sri Lanka when even airport security didn’t want to let him through in protest against him.

The embattled president first made his way to the Maldives where he was able to secure safe passage to Singapore on July 14 when he was granted a private visit. Though officials made clear that he had not asked for and was not given official asylum in the country, the Singaporean government did allow him an extension of his stay until August 11.

It appears now that as his safe harbor in Singapore comes to an end, President Rajapaksa will make his way to Thailand where he will seek temporary shelter. There have been no details released on whether he plans to request official asylum or if Thailand would grant him long-term residency in the kingdom.

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Thailand has been friendly to the plight of Sri Lanka though after an urgent appeal on Monday for help feeding malnourished children. The secretary of Sri Lanka’s Ministry for Women and Child Affairs, Neil Hapuhinne, said that out of the 570,000 children under five years old in Sri Lanka, the ministry had counted 127,000 malnourished children in 2021. The ministry is seeking private donations to feed possibly several hundred thousand children.

Thailand is pitching in to help Sri Lanka during its tumultuous economic crisis. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that the country has donated medicines, medical supplies, food, and financial support to Sri Lanka. Several departments made donations adding up to about 5 million baht, while the Foreign Ministry donated another 1.3 million baht worth of medical supplies to Sri Lanka.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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