Explained: Why Gotabaya Rajapaksa went from Maldives to Singapore

Sri Lanka's disgraced former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday fled to Singapore for a 'private visit'. It is believed he has strong connections to the city-state, where his family has gone time and again for medical reasons

FP Explainers July 15, 2022 13:53:43 IST
Explained: Why Gotabaya Rajapaksa went from Maldives to Singapore

File photo of former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. AP

A day after fleeing the crisis-ridden country, former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was allowed entry in Singapore on Thursday. The city-state said that Rajapaksa was on a “private visit” and there was no request for asylum from him.

Sri Lanka has been facing increasingly violent protests against the Rajapaksa government’s mishandling of the economy that has left the country cash-strapped and under the weight of unprecedented rates of inflation.

According to news agency Associated Press, a Saudi airlines flight - SV 788 - carrying Rajapaksa landed at the Singapore Changi International Airport shortly after 7 pm (local time).

In response to the media queries, a spokesperson for Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that President Rajapaksa has been "allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit".

Must read: Explained: What led to the fall of Sri Lanka’s powerful Rajapaksa clan?

Why Gotabaya Rajapaksa has chosen Singapore for his getaway

Singapore has denied that Gotabaya has been granted any asylum, since it “generally does not grant requests for asylum”.

Even though the precise reasons are not known for his move to Singapore, it is widely believed that the Rajapaksa family has strong connections in Singapore.

According to The Indian Express, both brothers Mahinda and Gotabaya have travelled frequently to the small city-state for medical reasons.

Months before the presidential election in 2019, Gotabaya had travelled to Singapore for a heart bypass surgery at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital. It was reported that he was treated by a Sri Lankan Tamil doctor at the hospital.

Again in December 2021, he prorogued Parliament for four weeks and travelled to Singapore again for a medical examination.

Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has also been treated in Singapore for a medical condition.

Must read: From food to allowing flights to land, how India has gone out of its way for Sri Lanka

What is happening in Sri Lanka?

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, a curfew was imposed from 12 pm till 5 am today within the Colombo District.

Earlier in the day, "GotaGoGama" protesters announced that they will peacefully hand over government-occupied buildings including the President's house, Presidential Secretariat, and Prime Minister's office, aiming to restore peace in the country.

The country is facing a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies and is in the throes of its worst economic crisis with soaring inflation. The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice.

Also read: Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees, PM gets interim presidential powers: What next for Sri Lanka?

Reduced domestic agricultural production, a lack of foreign exchange reserves, and local currency depreciation have fuelled the shortages.

The economic crisis will push families into hunger and poverty - some for the first time - adding to the half a million people who the World Bank estimates have fallen below the poverty line because of the pandemic.

With inputs from agencies

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