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Fonseka vows to protect democracy in Lanka

By T V Sriram
November 20, 2009 17:23 IST
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Sri Lanka's former top general Sarath Fonseka, who resigned last week following a spat with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has vowed to protect democratic freedom and human rights, amid reports that he may contest the presidential polls as an opposition candidate.

"I want to assure you that I will commit myself to protect democratic freedoms which we are rapidly losing," Fonseka said in a farewell letter to army troops. The former Chief of Defence Staff pledged to work to restore human rights, media freedom, social justice, ethnic unity and peaceful co-existence.

"I will be by your side like a shadow," he said in the letter, according to informed sources. Fonseka, who led the island's war to crush the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam, also reportedly complained that his security had now been reduced to 25 guards from over 200 when he was in service and that he has also been ordered to vacate his official residence.

In his resignation letter last week, Fonseka had claimed fears that he could launch a coup had led Rajapaksa to sideline him. Fonseka had then said that Sri Lankan government had requested India to place its troops on alert to be deployed on the island, in the event of a coup."This action did tarnish the image and reputation gained by the Sri Lankan army as a competent and professional organisation which was capable of defeating a terrorist group," the defence chief had said. The government subsequently accepted his resignation with immediate affect.

Rajapaksa, who apparently hoped to cash in on the victory against the LTTE, was expected to announce snap presidential polls last week for elections before April 2010 but has not yet done so. Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party has announced that they would back Fonseka as their candidate in Presidential polls against Rajapaksa.

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T V Sriram in Colombo
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