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Sri Lanka court dismisses challenge to President

Sri Lanka's supreme court on Friday dismissed a formal request to nullify the election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa that alleged widespread intimidation, bribery and misconduct during the January vote.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2010 18:10 IST

Sri Lanka's supreme court on Friday dismissed a formal request to nullify the election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa that alleged widespread intimidation, bribery and misconduct during the January vote.

Ex-army chief and opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, who is serving a jail term, had filed the petition. Once allies, Rajapaksa and Fonseka were both considered heroes by the Sinhalese majority for crushing the Tamil rebels last year, ending a quarter-century civil war that killed 80,000 to 100,000 people.

But they fell out months after the war ended and the general quit the army after accusing Rajapaksa of sidelining him, suspecting a military coup. Their relationship further deteriorated after Fonseka challenged Rajapaksa in the presidential election.

In his petition, Fonseka alleged that the election of Rajapaksa to a second term was void as there was widespread intimidation, bribery and misconduct during the Jan. 26 vote, said one of Fonseka's lawyers who requested anonymity to speak about the petition's content. He also asked the Supreme Court to order a recount, the lawyer said.

Rajapaksa's lawyers objected on the basis that the petition did not conform to the provisions of the presidential election act because it wasn't properly submitted.

The five-member bench upheld the preliminary objections and dismissed the petition, said Rajapaksa's counsel, DS Wijesinghe. Fonseka was arrested weeks after the election and convicted by a military court last month of fraud. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison with hard labor.

An earlier military court had stripped him of his rank and military honors for planning a political career while in uniform. He has appealed both rulings.