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Sri Lanka's ex-army chief barred from parliament

The former army commander Sarath Fonseka who was elected to parliament while in military custody on charges of conspiracy went on hunger strike after he was barred from attending sessions, his wife said today.

world Updated: May 05, 2010 19:30 IST

The former army commander Sarath Fonseka who was elected to parliament while in military custody on charges of conspiracy went on hunger strike after he was barred from attending sessions, his wife said on Wednesday.

The refusal to allow General Sarath Fonseka to attend the sittings sparked uproar in parliament between government and opposition members.

‘He has not had his breakfast or his lunch today in protest against not allowing him to go to parliament,’ Anoma Fonseka said.

The military said he had to face court martial proceedings on Wednesday and could not attend parliament.

But Fonseka’s Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said it was a violation of his right to attend.

The DNA, backed by the main opposition United National Party, attempted to push a parliamentary ruling allowing Fonseka to attend, but Deputy Speaker Priyankara Jayaratna refused to accept the motion.

DNA member of parliament Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said it was unfair to arrange court martial proceedings on days parliamentary sittings had been fixed.

Fonseka, who commanded the military victory over Tamil rebels in May 2009, later fell out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and went on to contest the presidential elections against him in January.

Two weeks later, he was arrested on charges of conspiracy against the government and allegations of fraud committed while serving as the army commander. While in custody he stood for parliament and was elected.

Fonseka was allowed to attend the inaugural sessions.