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Gen Fonseka hints at taking on Rajapakse

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 25 November 2009 09:03 No Comment]

“It is going to be the most crucial 48 hours in my life. I’ll announce my future plans day after tomorrow, whether to contest the presidential polls or to take legal action against the Defence Ministry, and everything else,” said Sri Lanka’s outgoing Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka.

Speaking exclusively to Express from Sri Lanka over telephone on Tuesday, Gen. Fonseka bitterly recounted how he was stripped off his official paraphernalia after he resigned last week. Having been ordered to vacate the ‘General’s House’, he was given only one week to find an accommodation.

“They (President Rajapakse, the Defence Ministry and secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse) have something against me. They are not only politically against me, but also do not want me to go to the media. They want to take credit for doing away with the LTTE.

“They are trying to turn the people against me and to some extent they’ve been successful. They asked me to vacate my official residence on November 22. I could not find an alternative accommodation so far. That is why I’m still in this house where I actually do not want to stay anymore.

I am being treated like an outsider,” said an emotional Fonseka. The General said he was leaving the Army with mixed feelings, after serving it for around 40 years.

“My life is at risk after President Rajapakse decided to reduce my security.

Initially, I had 600 men guarding me. When they reduced it to 25, I protested. Then, they raised it to 70.

“And 70 men are not sufficient for guarding my residence, leave alone my office. I need additional security when I go for public functions,” he said.

Asked if the threat to his life came only from the LTTE, he said: “You know what had happened to the man behind the Indian Army’s Golden Temple operation. I was the one who was attacked after the fall of the LTTE, and it was a suicide attack.” Asked about his relationship with India, the General said: “As the Army Commander, I had been in touch with top Indian officials on many occasions.

Both countries share a good relation and I’ve a lot of respect for India.” Gen. Fonseka has always been criticised by various quarters for his anti-media attitude.

“I am always for media freedom.

There were instances of the media misleading the people. I took it up with them and corrected their mistake.

My being anti-media is just propaganda,” he said.

What will be his priorities for Sri Lanka if he chooses to contest the elections there? “First of all, democratic freedom to all. Sri Lanka should be corruption- free. A just society, media freedom, religious democracy and good relations with neighbouring countries,” the General, who had resigned following a spat with the President, said. Fonseka also vowed to protect human rights.

Sri Lanka’s main Opposition party, the UNP, had announced that it would back Fonseka as its candidate against Rajapakse in the presidential polls.

[Full Coverage]

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