Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Israel identifies ‘missing’ soldier in Gaza

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Army chief who defeated Tamil Tigers resigns

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-12

Sri Lanka's army chief, who oversaw the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May, has resigned amid speculation that he will run for president in an election possibly slated for early 2010.

REUTERS - Sri Lanka’s top general, who engineered the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam after a 25-year war, submitted his resignation on Thursday amid speculation he will run for president.

General Sarath Fonseka, the Chief of Defence Staff, is expected to challenge his commander in chief, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in an election which may be held by April.

If Fonseka enters the race, he is expected to weaken Rajapaksa’s core voter base and erode the incumbent’s present monopoly on claiming political capital from the war victory.

“I gave my retirement papers,” General Sarath Fonseka told reporters. “I have been serving my country in the past and I will serve the country in future as well.”

When asked whether he planned to run in the election, Fonseka said: « I can’t comment as I am still in uniform. I will decide my future once my retirement comes into effect at the end of this month. I have the same basic right as anybody else."

A source close to Rajapaksa told Reuters the president had said that he would accept Fonseka’s resignation without delay.

He and another military source said Fonseka’s retirement letter, in which he had stated he would retire with effect from Dec. 1, had been handed to the president.

In July, Rajapaksa promoted the then-army commander to a newly created post, chief of defence staff, which many analysts saw as neutralising the wide powers Fonseka had been given in wartime.

RIFT WITH THE PRESIDENT

The government has repeatedly denied any split between Fonseka and Rajapaksa, but evidence of a long-brewing rift has been clear. Numerous ruling alliance politicians have publicly rubbished Fonseka’s ability to lead the nation as president.

Opposition parties have been happy to fan speculation of Fonseka’s potential candidacy to unsettle the ruling alliance and help find any issue that can help them erode the incumbent’s enormous post-war popularity.

Rajapaksa has called for early presidential and parliamentary polls to be held by April in what analysts have said is a manoeuvre to lock in a second term before his post-war popularity fades over issues like the cost of living and public wage hikes.

Trade unions allied with the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and pro-business United National Party have joined hands in a five-day labour action in the public sector, demanding pay raises the president pledged to give after the war ended.

The government’s agreement to reduce its budget deficit under a $2.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan could complicate Rajapaksa’s ability to deliver on that pledge, a fact the opposition parties know.

Although both parties are ideologically incompatible, they have both indicated they will back Fonseka for the purpose of defeating Rajapaksa.

Date created : 2009-11-12

COMMENT(S)