June 8, 2023

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Singapore extends visa for Sri Lanka's ex-leader: local media

Singapore extends visa for Sri Lanka’s ex-leader: local media

Singapore has extended a short-stay visa for Sri Lanka’s deposed president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, local media in the city-state reported on Wednesday.

Rajapaksa fled his country on July 13, after his official residence was stormed by thousands of protesters who had demonstrated for months against the island nation’s painful economic crisis.

He first escaped to the Maldives in a military plane and travelled on to Singapore, where he has been staying on a short-term visit pass since July 14.

Rajapaksa’s 14-day visit pass has been extended, allowing him to stay until August 11, the Straits Times newspaper reported Wednesday, without citing a source.

Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

The former president was allowed to enter Singapore on a “private visit” and did not seek asylum, authorities said previously.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesperson Bandula Gunawardena told reporters in Colombo on Tuesday that Rajapaksa is not in hiding and is expected to return to his country, but added that the government has not been informed about his travel plans.

“He is not in hiding and my understanding is that he will return, but if there is anything to the contrary, the state authorities will inform him and ensure that there is no danger for the ex-president,” he said.

Protesters blamed Rajapaksa’s government for mismanaging the country’s finances, with the island nation defaulting on its $51 billion debt and unable to afford to import even the most basic necessities.

The country of 22 million people has suffered through months of lengthy blackouts, acute food and fuel shortages and galloping inflation in its most severe economic downturn since gaining independence.

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