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Fonseka camp’s fears dismissed

[Hindu, Friday, 22 January 2010 10:14 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s opposition, backing the candidature of the retired Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, in the January 26 presidential election against President Mahinda Rajapaksa, expressed fears that the President would use the military to remain in power if he was defeated.

At a news conference here, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, one of the chief campaign managers of the retired General said, "by getting very senior officers to side with the President, the government is preparing the ground to hold on to power by using the Army to suppress the people’s will."

Separately, Mangala Samaraweera, another campaign manager of the commander-turned -politician wrote to the Inspector-General on the alleged incidents of electoral violence and demanded that action should be taken against the culprits. Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara denied that senior officers were being dragged into the election battle.

A report from Mr. Rajapaksa’s campaign office quoted him as saying at a poll rally elements who failed to divide the country through military means are striving to win their desired objectives in some other forms and the masses should be aware of such conspiracies.

"He told the gathering that another secret pact, hatched with the intention of propagating divisions within the country, was afoot. President Rajapaksa emphasised that he would never allow the subjugation of the freedom achieved and the democracy protected by sacrificing thousands of precious lives," it said.

Another report on the Government Department of Information website said an "alternate group" in the main opposition United National Party consisting of 252 local government members have pledged their full support to Mr. Rajapaksa.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union (EU) voiced concerns over what they termed as "growing violence" in the run up to the crucial poll.

[Full Coverage]

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