Fonseka plans to seek Australian asylum after defeat
Former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka is considering seeking temporary asylum in Australia after his election defeat this week in presidential polls, a media report said on Friday.world Updated: Jan 29, 2010 16:32 IST
Former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka is considering seeking temporary asylum in Australia after his election defeat this week in presidential polls, a media report said on Friday.
In an interview with The Australian at his home in Colombo, the former Sri Lankan army chief turned presidential challenger said he was planning to speak to the Australian high commissioner about the possibility of temporary asylum.
He said he had also spoken to the US and British embassies in Sri Lanka in this regard.
But the man credited with winning the war against the rebel Tamil Tigers last May - along with his former commander-in-chief, President Mahinda Rajapakse, revealed he was being prevented from leaving the country.
In the wake of Tuesday's polls - in which Rajapakse won a second six-year presidential term this week by a large margin of 1.8 million votes - he accused the government of rigging the election and abusing state resources.
He has also accused it of orchestrating his assassination by withdrawing his security detail, and hinted he would seek temporary political asylum in another country.
When asked whether he had considered Australia as an option, he replied: "It's a good place to go. I have not spoken to the Australian embassy yet; they may give me a visa but (the government) won't allow me to leave."
He also confirmed he had spoken to staff at the US and British embassies in Sri Lanka. "There's no charge, no case filed against me (but) they said I can't leave the country.
"In this country, the President interferes with the judiciary, interferes with law and order."
General Fonseka looked relaxed despite the drama of the previous day in which he accused the military of putting him under house arrest in an upscale Colombo hotel, the newspaper said on its website.
He said he intended to contest Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections in April - potentially as leader of a new political party - in what could be tacit acceptance that his bid to have this week's elections annulled has little chance of success.
Many analysts Thursday predicted the size of the President's victory would prove decisive in upcoming parliamentary elections and cement his hold on power.
But General Fonseka told The Australian: "There's been computer manipulation from the accounting centre to the electoral commission.
"We have a lot of evidence so we're going to file a Supreme Court case; after that we will try to get the results declared null and void and go for a recount."
On Thursday, a victorious Rajapakse vowed to put tensions with Western critics behind him and transform his war-ravaged nation into a development and tourism hub after his landslide win in Sri Lanka's first post-conflict presidential election.
But he warned Western nations against pushing for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by both sides in the last months of the civil war with the separatist Tamil Tigers. "The overwhelming mandate given in this election has given the answer to these critics," he said in a statement on Thursday.