While Sri Lanka’s ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visa was supposed to be expired on July 28, Singaporean authorities have extended his visa for another 14 days, while it is learnt from several sources in Colombo that the a number of influential figures including President Ranil Wickremesinghe are making frantic bids in saving Gotabaya from facing public wrath or facing criminal charges following his return.
Meanwhile, according to The Straits Times, this extension of visa comes as Sri Lanka’s Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told reporters that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was expected to return home.
He added that he was not aware of when the former president was returning but emphasized Rajapaksa was not in hiding, neither was he in exile.
Another Sri Lankan government official who asked not to be identified said Gotabaya Rajapaksa wanted to return home as soon as possible and was keen to live again at his private residence in the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, Bloomberg news agency reported.
On July 14, Rajapaksa, 73, was issued a 14-day visit pass when he arrived at Changi Airport on a chartered Saudia private jet from the Maldives. He had fled Sri Lanka amid a deepening economic crisis and widespread protests against his government as soaring inflation affected the prices of basic necessities such as food and fuel.
Shortly after he arrived in Singapore, Rajapaksa tendered his resignation, which was officially announced by the Sri Lanka Parliament on July 15.
His ally and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was voted in by lawmakers as the new president last week.
Now Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Singapore visa will expire on August 11.
Rajapaksa initially stayed at a hotel in the city center, but is believed to have moved to a private residence, where he currently is staying secretly.
Although Gotabaya Rajapaksa kept a ow profile since he arrived in Singapore and has not been seen in public, his close aides have been trying frantically in finding a country, which would agree to host him and grant political asylum.
Rajapaksa is willing to seek asylum in Sweden or Cyprus.
Shortly after he arrived on July 14, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed that Rajapaksa had been allowed entry on a private visit, and said he had not asked for asylum, and had not been granted asylum.
Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum, the spokesman added.
On July 20, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in response to media queries that visitors from Sri Lanka who enter Singapore for social visits will generally be issued with a short-term visit pass with a duration of up to 30 days.
Those who need to extend their stay here may apply online for extension of their visit pass. Applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, said ICA.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people has been crippled by a devastating economic crisis for several months, with shortages of fuel, food and other necessities as foreign exchange reserves needed for essential imports dropped to record lows.
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