The former Army Commander, Sarath Fonseka, on Thursday discounted speculation that he would join the government in some capacity.
Listing the many ‘faults’ of the government at the first formal press meet he addressed after being released from prison, Mr. Fonseka, who was cashiered before he was jailed, said the government had to go.
Mr. Fonseka, who was the joint opposition candidate in the presidential elections in 2010, however, has received lukewarm response from the opposition after his release, and the call for a joint front against the government has proved to be a non-starter, partly because Presidential elections are scheduled only for 2016.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned Fonseka as he commenced serving a fresh term. “The general story I heard when I was put in jail was that I will be in jail for 30 years. I will die in the jail. Some people said I will be hanged. But I came out in two and a half years,” he said, and added that he would work towards “toppling the government…with the support of the people.” “A new political culture” had to emerge and he working to make that happen.
When it was pointed out that he had lost his civic rights, Mr. Fonseka said that this was not the case.
“They have not deprived me of my civic rights. But I am unable to vote and contest. That is the limitation…I am confident that…truth will prevail, justice will prevail and I will overcome the seven year issue [anyone convicted cannot vote or contest for seven years] the same way we came out of the prison,” he said
Asked about his views on foreign policy, he said that the best of relations needed to be maintained with neighbours, the regional powers. “Especially our relationship with India should be upheld at any cost. It is of utmost importance to us,” he said. Also, relationship with countries like China, which helped during the war against terrorism, needed to be maintained “unhindered.”