A senior U.S. State Department official warned on Tuesday that Sri Lanka’s appointment of a war veteran accused of serious human rights violations as head of its army could affect US military cooperation and investment in the island nation, the Reuters news agency reported.
On Monday, Sri Lanka named Shavendra Silva, 55, as the country’s new army chief despite United Nations accusations that he was involved in human rights abuses during the country’s 26-year-long civil war.
The Washington official, speaking to reporters on background, said the appointment would have lasting implications for reconciliation following the brutal conflict, which ended in 2009.
“It is a highly charged political environment in which some political factions feel there is much to be gained by playing the nationalist card,” the official said.
“It is unfortunate that this card is being played through the promotion of a general about whom vivid and well documented human rights violations are on the record. We are deeply troubled.”