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President asks Lankan defence chief to leave immediately

November 13, 2009 18:25 IST

Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka's resignation has been accepted by the president with immediate effect, rejecting his request to serve for two more weeks, officials said on Friday.

Though the top general, who as army chief was the architect of the annihilation of the rebel Tamil Tigers in a military offensive in May, sought permission to retire from December 1, the government relieved him immediately.

"General Sarath Fonseka has been granted permission to retire with immediate effect," said Secretary to the President Lalith Weerathunga.

A war hero at home for leading the army to a total victory against the Tigers, Fonseka yesterday quit his post as Chief of Defence Staff -- a ceremonial position he was given after the campaign.

In a letter to Rajapaksa, Fonseka said he was promoted to the new post "with basically no authority" due to misleading reports of a likely coup in the island.

"I am compelled to believe that your excellency and the government has lost your trust and faith bestowed upon me... thereby I have the honour to request that I be permitted to terminate my services and retire from the regular force of the army with effect from 1st December 2009," Fonseka said.

"The president asked him to leave with immediate effect. This means he (the general) does not have to stay on till December 1, the date he mentioned that he wanted the resignation to take effect," government spokesman Anusha Palpita said.
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