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Sri Lanka: Singapore refuses to extend Rajapaksa's stay beyond 15 days, India denies his request

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also approached India – a request denied by New Delhi as India does not want to be seen against the Lankan people.

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End of trouble seems to be far from over for former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday and then landed in Singapore on Thursday. According to sources quoted by News18, Singapore is not keen on letting him stay for long and the authorities have told Rajapaksa that he has permission to stay for 15 days, which is unlikely to be extended. 

The report further said that Rajapska, who fled Sri Lanka amid violent protests demanding his resignation, has also approached India – a request denied by New Delhi as India does not want to be seen against the Lankan people. 

Rajapaksa announced last Saturday his decision to step down on July 13, after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees. He, however, fled to the Maldives without resigning from his office. From Maldives, he went to Singapore on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Rajapaksa has been “allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit".

He has “not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum", the spokesperson said on Thursday, adding Singapore does not grant requests for asylum.

On Friday, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in was sworn in as Acting President, setting the stage for the Parliamentary process starting Saturday to elect a new President on July 20. 

Speaker Abeywardena told party leaders that Parliament will meet on July 20 to elect a new president who can repair the nation's bankrupt economy.

He said that nominations will be called for the post of President on July 19. The announcement of the vacancy in the office of President will be officially informed to Parliament on Saturday. The new president will serve the remaining tenure of Rajapaksa till November 2024.

It will be the first time since 1978 that Sri Lanka will elect the country's next president through a secret vote by the MPs and not through a popular mandate. The 225-member Parliament will elect the new president by a secret vote.

Soon after assuming office, acting President Wickremesinghe pledged to maintain law and order and revive the 19th Amendment to the Constitution aimed at empowering Parliament over the executive president.

Addressing Parliament, Wickremesinghe, who is also the prime minister, pledged to strictly maintain law and order in the country which has witnessed massive anti-government protests and occupation of key government buildings.

He said that the armed forces have been given the powers and the freedom to deal with any acts of violence and sabotage.

"I am one hundred per cent supportive of peaceful demonstrations. There is a difference between rioters and protesters," the 73-year-old said. Wickremesinghe said the true protesters would not resort to unleashing violence.

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