Fonseka's resignation cleared
|He says Sri Lanka feared coup and on Oct. 15 asked India to place troops on alert|
COLOMBO: Following a disquieting disclosure that Sri Lanka on October 15 asked India to place its troops on alert to counter a possible coup in the island nation, President Mahinda Rajapaksa granted permission to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Sarath Fonseka, to retire with immediate effect.
The presidential nod and direction to his office to send a detailed reply to the three-page resignation letter, which cites, besides the India factor, 15 reasons, came on the eve of the visit here of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
On the events of October 15, Gen. Fonseka noted, "With a pain of mind it was noted that the same army which gained victory for the nation was suspected of staging a coup and thereby alerting the government of India once again on the 15th of October 2009, unnecessarily placing the Indian troops on high alert.
"This action did tarnish the image and reputation gained by the Sri Lanka army as a competent and professional organisation which was capable of defeating a terrorist group after the Malayan Emergency, in the eyes of the world. This suspicion would have been due to the loyalty of the Sri Lanka army towards me as its past Commander who led the army to the historic victory."
Political observers here are struck by Gen. Fonseka's concern over the "plight" of the war displaced Tamils and see it as a sure sign of the "war hero" seeking to reach out to Mr. Rajapaksa's political rivals and to don political robes.
It would be watched with interest how the General convinces the Tamils that he is a better bet than Mr. Rajapaksa in serving their interests. The dilemma before the Tamil parties was best articulated in the response of Mano Ganeshan on Groundviews web site ( http://www.groundviews.org/). Mr. Ganeshan has sent a questionnaire to Gen. Fonseka and is awaiting his response.
At present in Kandy, Mr. Rajapaksa is to preside over the convention of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Sunday to consider dates for the general election and a possible presidential election.
Meanwhile, preparatory to Mr. Mukherjee's visit, the Indian High Commissioner-designate, Ashok K. Kantha, called on Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama here. His Ministry said Mr. Kantha was due to present his credentials to the President shortly. Mr. Mukherjee is to deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture 2009 on Saturday.
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