Sri Lanka president resigns via email after fleeing to S'pore

He is expected to stay in Singapore for a while before potentially heading to the United Arab Emirates.

Matthias Ang | July 15, 2022, 02:36 PM

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Sri Lanka's president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned by email after arriving in Singapore, the BBC reported.

He had fled his country in the face of massive protests regarding his rule.

The email was sent to Sri Lanka's speaker of parliament, who accepted the resignation after verifying its authenticity, Reuters reported.

"From this point, we will move to constitutionally appoint a new president," the speaker added.

MFA: Rajapaksa did not ask for asylum in Singapore

Rajapaksa had arrived in Singapore aboard a Saudia flight on Jul. 14, according to aviation news site Simple Flying.

He was accompanied by his wife and two bodyguards.

In response to media queries, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed that Rajapaksa had been allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit.

MFA added: "He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum. Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum."

The Singapore Police Force also said Rajapaksa was in Singapore for a private visit and added that Rajapaksa was on a social visit pass.

The Straits Times further quoted the police as saying:

"Police ask that the public, Singaporeans, residents, work pass holders and social visitors alike, abide by our local laws. Action will be taken against anyone participating in a public assembly that is illegal."

According to Sri Lankan security sources cited by AFP, Rajapaksa is expected to stay in Singapore for some time before potentially moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Why did he flee?

Rajapaksa has been subject to fierce public protest since April.

He is accused of so badly mishandling the Sri Lankan economy that the country has run out of fuel, food, and foreign currency.

Sri Lankans have been queuing for hours or days for essentials.

The initial protests forced his brothers Mahinda and Basil Rajapaksa to resign from the prime ministership and finance ministry respectively; but Rajapaksa remained in place.

However, things came to a head on July 9, when a massive scheduled protest brought people out into the streets in the tens of thousands.

Protesters stormed the official residences of the president and prime minister, as well as the presidential offices, and burnt down the prime minister’s private residence.

Rajapaksa fled the presidential residence prior to the invasion, which saw protesters going through the building, lying on his bed, and even swimming in the swimming pool.

Top left photo via Gotabaya Rajapaksa/Facebook, right photo via Nick Marsh/Twitter