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Lanka army chief may quit by month-end, contest polls

world Updated: Nov 11, 2009 02:09 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

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.