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Day after Lankans take over President’s home, Army Chief’s appeal

Colombo: Sri Lankan Army chief General Shavendra Silva on Sunday sought people’s support to maintain peace in the island nation as it grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis.

General Shavendra Silva today issued a statement saying that “an opportunity has arisen to resolve the current crisis in a peaceful manner”. He requested Sri Lankans to support the Armed Forces and the police to ensure that peace is maintained in the country.

The International Monetary Fund or IMF said it was closely monitoring the ongoing developments in the cash-starved country and hoped that the political crisis will be resolved soon to allow for the resumption of dialogue on an IMF-supported programme.

The United States has urged Sri Lanka’s politicians to come forward and “work quickly” to achieve long-term solutions to address the people’s discontent. The country criticised Saturday’s violence, but also warned Lankan forces over any attacks on protesters and journalists.

Thousands of protesters barged into the official residence of embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday, demanding his resignation. The home of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was also set on fire even after he offered to quit. President Rajapaksa’s current whereabouts remain unknown as of now.

Following the protests, President Rajapaksa informed Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that he will step down on July 13, while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said he would resign as soon as an all-party government was ready to take over.

The Speaker would become the acting President after Mr Rajapaksa resigns. Later, an election among MPs will be held to elect a new President, reports said.