(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to extend his stay in Singapore by another 14 days.
The Straits Times understands that his short-term visit pass, which was issued when he arrived here on a private visit two weeks ago, has been extended by another 14 days.
This development comes as Sri Lanka’s Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told reporters on Tuesday (July 26) that he was expected to return home.
He added that he was not aware of when the former president was returning but emphasised Mr Rajapaksa was not in hiding, neither was he in exile.
Another Sri Lankan government official who asked not to be identified said Mr 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, Mr Rajapaksa, 73, was issued a 14-day visit pass when he arrived at Changi Airport on a Saudia flight 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, Mr 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.
ST understands that the new visa Mr Rajapaksa has been issued will expire on Aug 11.
Mr Rajapaksa initially stayed at a hotel in the city centre, but is believed to have moved to a private residence.
He has kept a low profile since he arrived, and has not been seen in public.
Shortly after he arrived on July 14, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed that Mr 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.
Last Wednesday (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. (Courtesy The Straits Times)