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Top Generals absent at Fonseka's last salute

world Updated: Nov 17, 2009 00:35 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka’s first chief of defence staff, vacated his office on Monday after taking farewell salute from the three forces in absence of their commanders.

According to protocol, the presence of the three commanders is necessary at the retirement ceremony of the CDS, the senior-most serving officer in the armed forces. In Fonseka’s case, he was also the first four-star general in Sri Lanka’s 60-year history.

In his brief address, Fonseka, noting the absence of the three chiefs of army, navy and air force, said politics should be kept out way for the armed forces.

Fonseka also visited the war memorial in Parliament to pay tribute to war heroes. Daily Mirror online reported that when asked about his future plans, Fonseka said he would now begin a new life as a civilian.

"Wait for two-three days", he said, when questioned about his decision to join politics.

Fonseka later met President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In his resignation letter to Rajapaksa, Fonseka had sought time till November 30 to retire from his post. But his resignation was accepted with immediate effect, ensuring the he vacate office at the earliest. It was learnt that he has also been asked to vacate his official home.

Meanwhile, the local media has reported that a top police officer and a close relative of Fonseka has been abruptly transferred.

Senior Superintendent of Police and Fonseka’s brother-in-law, AS Munasinghe was transferred to the tourist police department from the position of a director of the ministerial security division.

In another development, Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonathileke was appointed as the new CDS on Monday in addition to his current position as Air Force Commander.