Sri Lankan Army chief seeks public support to maintain peace
Seeking the public's support to maintain peace in the country, Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, on Sunday said an opportunity to resolve the current political crisis in a peaceful manner is now available. His statement came hours after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to step down this Wednesday, following violent protests in which demonstrators stormed his house forcing him to flee.
Why does this story matter?
Sri Lanka has been reeling under the worst economic situation since its independence, stemming from a foreign exchange crisis that led to shortages of essential supplies for the past several months. The new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over in May, also failed to bring the island county out of the crisis, despite promising to take some drastic steps to revive the economy.
Opportunity to solve crisis: CDS
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Silva said there is an opportunity to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner now. He requested all Sri Lankans to support the armed forces and the police to ensure that peace is maintained, reported Colombo Gazette. The protesters also torched Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence hours after he announced he would step down.
3 arrested for torching Wickremesinghe's private residence
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Police on Sunday arrested three persons for setting PM Wickremesinghe's private residence at Cambridge Place in Colombo on fire. The incident caused extensive destruction of the property and a luxury sedan. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office said Wickremesinghe's residence had a rare collection of books and old Buddha statues, most of which he had inherited.
IMF hopes for resolution of crisis to allow bailout talks
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is hoping for a resolution to the crisis that will allow a resumption of talks for a bailout package. "We hope for a resolution of the current situation that will allow for resumption of our dialogue on an IMF-supported program (sic)," the IMF stated. Sri Lanka is also seeking help from India and China.
US urges Lankan leaders to act 'quickly'
The United States urged Lankan leaders to act quickly to seek long-term solutions to the crisis. "We urge this government or any new, constitutionally elected government to work quickly to identify and implement solutions that will achieve long-term economic stability and address the Sri Lankan people's discontent over the worsening economic conditions, including power, food, and fuel shortages," the US State Department spokesperson said.
4th minister quits in 2 days
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's Minister of Investment Promotion Dhammika Perera, on Sunday, became the fourth minister to resign from the Cabinet after Harin Fernando, Manusha Nanayakkara, and Bandula Gunawardena in the past two days.
What is happening in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is facing severe shortages of food, fuel, and other essentials, as well as record inflation and crippling power cuts. It is struggling to service its $51 billion foreign debt due to a lack of foreign exchange with the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardizing its lucrative tourism revenue. Saturday witnessed a massive anti-government protest even as peaceful demonstrations were going on for several months now.