Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Singapore, not seeking asylum: MFA

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and a protest in Colombo on 13 July 2022 against his economic mismanagement. (PHOTOS: Reuters/AFP)
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and a protest in Colombo on 13 July 2022 against his economic mismanagement. (PHOTOS: Reuters/AFP)

UPDATE: Adds statements by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Commonwealth

SINGAPORE — Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on Thursday evening (14 July), after fleeing to the Maldives a day earlier following days of protests in Colombo against his economic mismanagement.

In response to queries by Yahoo News Singapore, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said, "In response to media queries, it is confirmed that Mr 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."

Rajapaksa is reported to have flown via a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, according to media reports earlier Thursday. He promised last weekend to resign on Wednesday to make way for a unity government.

The Sri Lankan parliamentary speaker's office told AFP that Rajapaksa submitted his resignation via email shortly after reaching Singapore. "The authenticity and the legality of the e-mail will have to be checked out" before it is accepted, said the speaker's spokesperson Indunil Yapa, adding there may be a formal announcement on Friday.

In accordance with his presidential powers, Rajapaksa was originally able to fly to the Maldives along with his wife and two bodyguards in a Sri Lankan Air Force aircraft with the approval of the country’s defence ministry, officials said.

After Rajapaksa escaped from his official residence in Colombo, tens of thousands of protesters overran it.

Sri Lanka has been plagued by protests in the capital in recent days over a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies and soaring inflation amid its worst ever economic crisis.

The chaos worsened as protestors stormed into the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as the acting president on Wednesday. He has declared a state of emergency and ordered the security forces to take “whatever” measures to restore law and order.

Statement by Commonwealth Secretary-General

Meanwhile, Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of The Commonwealth, urged Sri Lanka’s leaders to safeguard democratic principles, the rule of law and human rights.

“The Commonwealth is a community that is underpinned by our shared values. As one of the oldest democracies in Asia and a founding member of the modern Commonwealth, Sri Lanka has always shown its strong commitment to these tenets, which are cherished and trusted by its people,” Scotland said in a statement.

Scotland has been in contact with Wickremesinghe and other Sri Lankan leaders. She added, “It is important that the concerns of the people of Sri Lanka on governance and other issues are addressed and I urge continued dialogue to this end and call on the international community to continue to assist Sri Lanka in this hour of economic need.”

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