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A Frankenstein scares Rajapaksa

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 10 February 2010 08:49 No Comment]

Developments in Sri Lanka have taken a predictable course since President Mahinda Rajapaksa began to view his army commander, General Sarath Fonseka, as a threat to his life as well as his government, in the closing stages of the war against the LTTE and immediately thereafter, last year. Fonseka’s arrest on Monday and the decision to haul him before a court martial for a variety of  ‘military crimes’ including a bid to stage a military coup and assassinate the president, did not come as a surprise. The general’s unabashed public posturing as the sole ‘war hero’ and his controversial political pronouncements had created in the establishment a deep fear of a Bonapartist rising in their midst. The fact that the South Asian region had been home to military regimes added to the unease.

Streaks of intolerance and ruthlessness in Fonseka’s style of functioning, seen in his dealings with opponents and critics in the media in 2006-2007 when the war against the LTTE was waged in both conventional and unorthodox ways, had given an insight into what he was capable of, if left unchecked. To be sure, the Rajapaksa regime was complicit in many of the transgressions of human rights as it believed that the war had to be won at any cost. But when peace returned, it realised that it had created a Frankenstein. Fonseka’s post-war proposal to increase the size of the army by 3,00,000 men and import millions of dollars worth of new arms, was seen as a scheme to make the army his political power base.

Intelligence reported that Fonseka had formed groups of loyalists within the army and established links with the opposition parties and some Western powers to bring about a regime change. To nip the trend in the bud, Rajapaksa removed Fonseka from the command of the army and made him a chief of defence staff with no functions. Stung, Fonseka sought retirement and accepted the opposition parties’ nomination as their candidate against Rajapaksa in the presidential election. He bit the dust in the elections, but the government continued to hound him, heaping charges on him.

[Full Coverage]

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