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Discomfort in Lanka over Fonseka's US visit

Chief of defence staff, general Sarath Fonseka, is again making headlines. Headlines that have left the government worried and in the turbulent middle of another diplomatic spat with the US. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Nov 03, 2009 16:22 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Chief of defence staff, general Sarath Fonseka, is again making headlines. Headlines that have left the government worried and in the turbulent middle of another diplomatic spat with the US.

Fonseka, currently on a partly private visit to the US, has been sought by the US’s Homeland Security department to be a source of information on alleged human rights crimes committed by defence secretary, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The plan to question Fonseka comes days after the US state department released a report that both the Lankan government and the LTTE violated human rights on several occasions during the last phase of the war.

Giving a twist to the tale, the Asian Tribune website claimed that Fonseka had agreed to meet US officials in Oklahoma even before he informed the Lankan embassy in Washington or his political superiors in Colombo about the unusual US request.

``It took almost two days for him to inform Sri Lanka ambassador in Washington and his immediate superior defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,’’ the website said.

``What made Fonseka to agree to the ‘voluntary meeting’ November 4, 48 hours before he intimated Ambassador J Wickremasuriya and…Colombo?’’ was the natural next question that the website asked.

The government said it would be illegal for Fonseka to share any information about the war against the LTTE with a third party without the government’s consent.

Political and diplomatic circles in Colombo have been on overdrive; Fonseka himself has remained quiet, leading to more theories. An English newspaper editorial titled the development as ``whose drama and who is Hamlet?’’

Naturally, the political soil here is fertile for conspiracy theories; people aren’t ready to believe that it was as simple as Fonseka landed in the US and was called for questioning. And, can one blame Sri Lankans for believing that there is more than meets the eye.