South Asia News

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

#Singapore #extends #visa #Sri #Lankas #exleader #local #media

Singapore has extended a short-stay visa to Sri Lanka’s ousted 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 been demonstrating for months against the island nation’s painful economic crisis.

He first fled to the Maldives on a military plane and traveled on to Singapore, where he has been staying since July 14 with a short-visit pass.

Rajapaksa’s 14-day visit pass has been extended, allowing him to stay until August 11, the Straits Times newspaper reported on 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 apply for asylum, authorities previously said.

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

“He is not in hiding and I expect he will return, but if there is anything to the contrary, the state authorities will inform him and make sure there is no danger to the ex-president,” he said.

The protesters accused the Rajapaksa government of mismanaging the country’s finances as the island nation defaults on its $51 billion in debt and cannot afford to import even the most basic necessities.

The country of 22 million people has endured months of power outages, acute food and fuel shortages and runaway inflation in its worst economic downturn since gaining independence.

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