Sri Lankan presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka was an important architect of the victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), remaining in the middle of the fight for decades.
While army chief, he was injured when an LTTE suicide cadre blew herself up in the army headquarters in 2006. Fonseka fought for life for three months in a Singapore hospital.
Soon after, the general vowed that he “will not hand over the war against the Tigers to the next army commander”.
On his alleged remark to a section of the media in 2008 that Sri Lanka belonged to the Sinhalese, Fonseka said he was misquoted and maintained any solution to the ethnic conflict should be acceptable to all stakeholders. “The majority should take care of the rights of the minorities.”
The poker-faced former chief of defence staff, Fonseka first spoke in Sinhala, then in English on Sunday.
He remained vague on political issues, especially on the 13th amendment to the Lankan constitution introduced after the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord. The amendment dealt with devolution of powers to regions with an aim to give some amount of regional autonomy to Tamil-dominated areas in the north and east of the country.
“The amendment was done 20 years ago under certain circumstances. The situation is different,” he said, indicating it needed a re-look in the current context.
On his relationship with India, Fonseka said, “If somebody says, okay I worked in China or Pakistan… to get military equipment to fight the war. But those countries helped us in the military equipment but the Indian government morally and politically helped us to win the war.”
He added, “Even in future, I like to maintain the best of relationship (with India).”