It might turn out to be a case of political conjecture but speculation that chief of defence staff general Sarath Fonseka was readying to fight in the coming Presidential election is picking up pace.
On Wednesday, the radical Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said that it was ready to accept Fonseka as a candidate for the top post in the country.
JVP parliamentarian K.D. Lalkantha was quoted by Daily Mirror as saying that that the JVP ``would be willing to extend support to CDS General Sarath Fonseka if the general decides to put himself forward as a common candidate for the next presidential election. A similar offer had also been made yesterday by the new Sinhala Urumaya party.’’
Withing hours of the JVP statement, Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganeshan said his party would withdraw from the United National Party-led alliance if Fonseka was made the common candidate for the Presidential election, Daily Mirror said.
Newspapers here have been full of opinions and political commentary on the issue.**
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Fonseka are seen as the twin architects of victory over the LTTE. Fonseka was the army chief during the last phase of the war between 2006 and 2009 and was promoted to CDS within days of victory in May. During his tenure as army chief, Fonseka had survived a suicide attack with serious injuries.
Last week, the government announced both the Presidential and general elections would be held before April, 2010.
Chandana Sirimalwatte, the editor of a Sinhala newspaper was recently taken in for questioning by the police for a news article claiming that a rift was growing between Fonseka and the government.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said: “Such reports have been planted deliberately to create a rift between the government and the army.’’
But the move by the Rajapaksa government to additionally appoint Fonseka as a secretary in the sports ministry did not quite help to squash rumours. Neither did it help that Fonseka, while giving a speech at the 60th army day celebration recently, said that it was possibly the last time that he was addressing them.