Don't miss




Anger at Russian pension reform gives hope to opposition

Read more


Save the Children's CEO: 'Wars today are targeting children'

Read more


Film show: 'One Nation, One King', Marcel Ophüls retrospective and Dinard's British Film Festival

Read more


Brazil's return to dictatorship? Artists unite against far-right candidate Bolsonaro

Read more


Ending the war in Syria: 'We do not want the Gaddafi scenario'

Read more


Argentina close to bailout deal as central bank chief quits

Read more


Ethiopia violence: 1,200 detained after Addis Ababa clashes

Read more


Macron's former bodyguard's gun selfie

Read more


Which world order? Trump, Macron spell out rival visions at UN

Read more


Defeated presidential candidate Fonseka is arrested


Latest update : 2010-02-09

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested ex-army commander General Sarath Fonseka (photo) for "military offences", according to the government's military spokesman. Fonseka has accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of rigging the Jan. 26 presidential poll.

REUTERS - Sri Lanka's military arrested defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka on Monday on charges he conspired against the president while serving as the country's top military officer.

Fonseka lost the Jan. 26 election to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by an 18 point margin and has since accused his former commander-in-chief of rigging the vote. The government in turn has accused him of a coup and assassination plot.

The arrest caps a rapid fall from grace for the outspoken commander who was feted as a national hero after leading the army against the Tamil Tigers. He quit his military post in November to run as the candidate of a disparate opposition alliance.

Lakshman Hulugalle, director of the state-run Media Centre for National Security, said Fonseka had been arrested by military police and would be tried by court-martial that will be closed to the public.

"He was having discussions with various political party leaders and the opposition to overthrow the government and president, and getting into politics and planning to divide the army while he was still serving," Hulugalle said.

Witnesses said several hundred military police had surrounded Fonseka's office, which police first raided nine days ago to search for evidence of the coup plot.

"He was dragged away in a very disgraceful manner in front of our own eyes," Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem told Reuters. One of Fonseka's security officers, I.P. Herath, confirmed the account.



The general stood side-by-side with Rajapaksa in May after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger separatists in a 25-year war, but they later fell out over what Fonseka said were false coup allegations and a promotion to chief of defence staff which stripped him of key powers.

Rumours that Fonseka planned to enter the political arena surfaced as far back as August, but the general denied any interest at the time.

The presidential campaign turned increasingly bitter and personal, with Fonseka and Rajapaksa trading allegations of corruption and misconduct.

On the night votes were being counted, soldiers surrounded the hotel where Fonseka was staying with other opposition leaders in what the general said was an attempt to arrest him.

The military said the troops had been sent to arrest army deserters who were with the general that it suspected of plotting a coup, possibly involving the assassination of Rajapaksa and his family.

Since then, the government has arrested at least 37 of Fonseka's staff including 15 former army officers working for him. The army last week also forced 14 serving senior officers, seen as Fonseka loyalists, to retire for engaging in politics.

Sri Lanka's stock market <.CSE>, which has gained 5.5 percent since the election despite Fonseka's vow to fight the results, was not expected to be affected by the arrest.

Date created : 2010-02-08


    President sacks senior army officers over 'security fears'

    Read more