close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Sri Lanka's new army chief takes office amid international criticism

Chief of staff of Sri Lankan army Shavendra Silva attends a news conference in Colombo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Colombo, Sri Lanka Aug 21, 2019, 06.01 PM (IST)

Sri Lanka's newly appointed army chief took office and attended a Buddhist religious ceremony in Colombo on Wednesday, amidst widespread international criticism for his involvement in the Sri Lankan civil war.

Monday's appointment of General Shavendra Silva, 55, a key military leader during the final phase of the island nation's 26-year-long war with dissident Tamil Tigers, drew flak from the United States, United Nations and civil society groups.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry brushed aside international criticism of its decision to name a war veteran accused of human rights violations as its army chief as on Tuesday (August 20), saying in a statement that "foreign entities trying to influence the decisions and internal administrative processes of public service promotions in Sri Lanka is unwarranted and unacceptable".

A United Nations panel has accused Silva's army division of suspected extrajudicial executions of unarmed rebels in the final week of the war, which ended in 2009, and systematic torture of people in custody; accusations he has denied.

A senior US State Department official warned on Tuesday that Sri Lanka's appointment of Silva as army chief could affect US military cooperation and investment in the island nation.

Story highlights

Monday's appointment of General Shavendra Silva, 55, a key military leader during the final phase of the island nation's 26-year-long war with dissident Tamil Tigers, drew flak from the United States, United Nations and civil society groups.