United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for dialogue to ensure a smooth transition of government in Sri Lanka and find sustainable solutions to the economic crisis.

“I stand in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka & call for dialogue to ensure a smooth transition of government & to find sustainable solutions to the economic crisis,” Guterres tweeted.

“I condemn all acts of violence and call for those responsible to be held accountable,” he added.

On Monday, the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq said that the UN Secretary was closely following the developments in Sri Lanka, and stands in solidarity with the country.

Notably, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday agreed to step down from his post. He said that he will step down from the presidency on July 13 amid economic and political instability. On Monday, Sri Lanka’s speaker of parliament said political party leaders have decided to elect a new president on July 20 through a vote in parliament.

In a statement, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that following a meeting with all political party leaders, it was decided to convene parliament sessions on July 15 and inform the parliament that there was a vacancy for the presidency.

Nominations for the presidency will be called for on July 19 and a vote will be taken on July 20 to elect a new president, the speaker said. Party leaders also decided to form an all-party government under the new president and take steps to continue the supply of essential services.

This comes after protests by thousands rocked Colombo on Saturday as crowds tore through the barricades surrounding Rajapaksa’s residence and climbed over the fence and took control of the area.

Dramatic visuals from outside Rajapakse’s residence showed a sea of demonstrators storming into the compound, tearing down security cordons placed by police, taking a dip in the swimming pool and romping through his kitchen and home.

Hours after the protestors stormed his official residence, Rajapaksa agreed to step down from his post.

Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress and severely undermining the country’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (ANI)