MALE: After Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to the Maldives triggered protests in the nation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives clarified that the aircraft carrying Sri Lankan President was granted diplomatic clearance for a transit visit.
“The Government of Maldives, at the official request of the Government of Sri Lanka, granted diplomatic clearance for a Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft carrying His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and spouse, on a transit visit, to land at the Velana International Airport on 13 July 2022. President Rajapaksa left to Singapore on 14 July 2022,” the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the island nation with his spouse and two bodyguards on July 13 driven out after an economic collapse unleashed a massive uprising in the country, subsequently appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the interim President of Sri Lanka.
It is pertinent to mention that 73-year-old Gotabaya Rajapaksa had gone into hiding after crowds of protesters stormed his residence on July 9 due to economic turbulence in Sri Lanka.
As protesters demanded Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation and slogans “GotaGoGama” were heard on the streets of Colombo and assured that they will peacefully hand over government-occupied buildings including President’s house, Presidential Secretariat, and Prime Minister’s office, aiming to restore peace in the country.
Embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday tendered his resignation to the Speaker of the Parliament.
Sri Lankan Speaker’s office said that the Speaker of Parliament has received the resignation letter of Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Rajapaksa has been allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit and he has not asked for asylum nor has he been granted asylum.
President Rajapaksa left for Singapore on 14 July 2022 and arrived in Singapore on board a Saudia Airlines Flight on Thursday evening.
The flight touched down at Singapore Changi airport at 7.17 pm (local time). Rajapaksa is however expected to be in Singapore only on transit and is expected to fly into the Middle East later in the day, reported Daily Mirror.
According to the earlier reports, Rajapaksa and his wife were expected to stay in Singapore and not travel further to the Middle East. As per various media reports, the ex-Sri Lankan President and his wife, who took Saudia Airlines flight SV788 to Singapore, were expected to travel to Jeddah.
Sri Lanka 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.
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.