General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka’s chief of defence staff (CDS) and an architect of the military victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), may resign by the month-end.
This could clear the way for him to contest in next year’s presidential election against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa.
A coalition of opposition parties are ready to field Fonseka against Rajapaksa.
Fonseka, as army chief, and Rajapaksa are credited with bringing Lanka’s 26-year ethnic conflict to an end. But HT has learnt that the general — who survived an LTTE suicide attack in 2006 — was unhappy with how days after Colombo declared victory against the LTTE on May 19, he was promoted to CDS — “an appointment without power”.
From being the chief of a 2 lakh-strong army, he had been made a ceremonial head.
The animosity between Fonseka and Rajapaksa deepened when earlier this month the president “summoned” the CDS back from the US, after homeland security there sought Fonseka as a source of information on the involvement of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, defence secretary and the president’s brother, in alleged rights violations.
Fonseka returned to Colombo immediately.