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Down but not out, Sri Lanka’s Fonseka to run again

[The Washington Post, Friday, 29 January 2010 10:42 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s defeated presidential candidate will contest a parliamentary seat during general elections later this year, an opposition activist said Friday.

Sarath Fonseka will challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party in parliamentary elections after losing the presidential race earlier this week, said Mano Ganeshan, an opposition official.

Rajapaksa swept to a resounding victory in Tuesday’s vote, beating his former army chief Fonseka by 17 percentage points.

Fonseka said he does not accept the results and will take the matter to court. On Thursday, he alleged the government stole more than 1 million of his votes during the tallying process.

The government has denied Fonseka’s allegation, and in turn accused him of wanting to organize a coup and being involved in an alleged attempt on Rajapaksa’s life.

Fonseka responded that these were trumped-up allegations that could be used to arrest him.

The acrimonious post-poll fallout between the one-time allies who jointly crushed the Tamil Tiger’s insurgency last year will likely continue until general elections take place.

The president can dissolve parliament and call a new election at any point between now and April, when its six-year mandate expires.

Rajapaksa and his coalition partners hold a majority in parliament.

Following his defeat in the presidential poll, Fonseka said the government arrested some of his associates and removed his 80-strong state-provided security force, a move he says has put his life in danger.

[Full Coverage]

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