Colombo [Sri Lanka], August 17 (ANI): Amid the row surrounding the frequent travel of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to foreign countries since his ouster from power, the new Sri Lankan leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has come forward to clarify that the current government is not playing for the overseas stay of the former President who fled the country after violent protests.
The Government Information Department said in a statement that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not using state funds for any expenses he makes abroad, Sri Lanka's Newswire reported.
"All such expenses borne by the personal funds of the former President," the Government Information Department added.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand last week following his departure from Singapore. He was granted entry into Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government, according to media reports.
He left Singapore last Thursday after nearly a month's stay in Singapore. The former president was issued a 14-day visit pass when he arrived at the Changi Airport in Singapore from the Maldives last month and he was allowed to stay there for two weeks.
Thailand has any denied reports that the former Sri Lankan President has sought asylum in the country. The Thailand Foreign Ministry said it received a request from Rajapaksa to visit the country with no intention of seeking political asylum.
"Thailand saw no problem with Rajapaksa entering on a diplomatic passport, which would allow him to stay 90 days," Daily Mirror reported, quoting Thailand Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat as saying.
Thailand would be the second Southeast Asian country after the Maldives that Rajapaksa is seeking temporary shelter in after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests.
Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. After the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka on July 21 in Parliament.
Wickremesinghe was earlier appointed as interim president of Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa fled abroad after his palace was stormed by angry protesters amid the unprecedented economic crisis.
Sri Lanka continues to face a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies and is in the throes of its worst-ever economic crisis with soaring inflation.
The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice. The people of the island nation are expecting the IMF to give a bailout package.
Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis since its independence. (ANI)