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Fonseka readies for SL general election

world Updated: Jan 28, 2010 21:31 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Thursday announced that he would contest the upcoming general election in Sri Lanka. He said that if he did not contest the election, it would let down the people who voted for him.

Fonseka said he was yet to decide the place and political party he would contest from. ``Yes, otherwise, I will let down the people,’’ he said when asked about his candidature.

The Sri Lankan government is likely to dissolve the current Parliament soon and call for a general election as its tenure is coming to an end. The new 225-member Parliament has to be constituted before April 20.

Fonseka, who early on Thursday moved to a confidant’s home from the five-star hotel where he remained holed up on Wednesday, told the media that his life continued to be in danger. Sri Lankan military personnel, many of them wearing gas masks, continued to stand guard and monitor roads around the retired general’s new home.

The government, on its part, agreed that Fonseka’s security detail of 50 soldiers and 20 commandoes had been withdrawn. Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told reporters that four vehicles, including a bullet-proof car, had also been withdrawn.

Fonseka was quick to jump to conclusion that the government was trying to make him vulnerable and exposed to attacks. ``They deployed four policemen for me. I have hired 15 unarmed security guards.’’

Interestingly, the police on Thursday announced the arrest of a senior LTTE leader and said the Tamil Tigers were trying to regroup; Fonseka insists that he is still under threat from LTTE; a Tamil Tiger suicide cadre attempted to kill him in April 2006 when he was army chief.

A new dimension was added to the drama of accusations and counters when the chief of the Media Centre for National Security Lakshman Hulugalle told the media that around 25 to 30 army deserters were arrested over an alleged plot to assassinate President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Hulugalle said if there was evidence to prove that Fonseka was involved, he too would be arrested.

Fonseka added that the opposition would file a case in the Supreme Court to annul the result of Presidential election announced. On Wednesday, the Election Secretariat announced that Rajapaksa had defeated Fonseka by a comfortable majority of more than 1.8 million votes.

But Fonseka said the result was fudged. ``We won. I am 100 percent certain. Initially, I was leading by 1.4 million votes. But the election process was not conducted properly,’’ Fonseka added. He alleged that fraud was done while the data about the number of votes was being electronically transferred, adding that people – even including some opposition election agents – were bribed to manipulate the data.

However, neither Fonseka nor the rest of opposition has been able to provide credible evidence of electoral fraud. Independent monitors, while criticising aspects of the process, have said the polls were largely fair.