The United National Party (UNP), the main opposition party in Sri Lanka, on Thursday endorsed general Sarath Fonseka as its candidate for the Presidential elections next year.
The endorsement was adopted at a working committee meeting of the party this morning. Three UNP members however objected to Fonseka being fielded as the candidate.
Fonseka who recently retired as the chief of defence staff is emerging as the consensus candidate for the post of President of an 18-party coalition of opposition parties, led by the UNP and its leader, former prime minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe.
Soon after UNP’s green signal, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahanjan wing), led by Mangala Samaraweera, also endorsed Fonseka’s candidature as the common candidate.
Fonseka would be up against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the election slated for end of January.
Meanwhile, Fonseka has assured a senior Tamil politician that if elected to the post he would ensure the rights of the minorities were protected.
Daily Mirror online reported Fonseka assured Democratic Peoples Front Leader Mano Ganesan that he will ensure the rights of minorities if elected President. The two met late on Wednesday evening and reportedly agreed on certain points regarding minorities.
A year ago, Fonseka had made controversial comments about Sri Lanka being a country only for the majority Sinhala. He had added that while minority communities could stay in the country, they would have to do so without making undue demands.
Though in his resignation letter, Fonseka had criticised the government on its treatment of the internally displaced Tamils, his own attitude towards the rights of the minorities is not yet clear.