Fonseka joins prez poll race

Fonseka joins prez poll race

Lanka braces for tough fight

Fonseka joins prez poll race

Former chief of the Sri Lankan army Sarath Fonseka addresses a media conference in Colombo on Sunday. AP

Fifty-eight-year-old Fonseka, who quit as the chief of defence staff three weeks ago following a spat with Rajapaksa, said he would try to unseat the president as the joint candidate of the opposition parties, including the United National Party of former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe in the January 26 polls. “I am joining the race for presidency,” he told a packed press conference, his first as a politician.

Rajapaksa advanced the presidential polls by nearly two years to cash in on the military victory against the Tamil Tigers, who were controlling one-third of Sri Lanka’s land under its control when he took over as president.

Exuding confidence that he will win the polls, Fonseka vowed to abolish executive presidency. “The bane of the country is executive presidency and we will immediately, after my victory, take action to abolish executive presidency,” he said.

“And that (executive presidency) has done enough damage to the country... So the powers have been abused, specially at present all the powers are being abused and the executive presidency has to be abolished to ensure one man cannot run the country anymore.”

Fonseka oversaw the last phase of the 30-year-old civil war curtains on which came with the troops over running the last defence of the LTTE and killing its chief Velupillai Prabhakaran on May 18, 2009.

“If I am elected, I will scrap the executive presidency within six months, hold parliamentary elections and adopt a new constitution that will uphold democracy, social justice and media freedoms,” Fonseka said.

Late Sri Lankan leader J R Jayewardene, who swept elections in 1977 to become prime minister, had amended the constitution of 1972 to create executive presidency. He thereafter became executive president of Sri Lanka in 1978.

Foreign observers

Fonseka said foreign observers were the “need of the hour” for monitoring the presidential elections.

The former army chief said the opposition parties also hoped to do well in the forthcoming parliamentary elections after the presidential polls. The term of the current parliament ends in April next year.

“My victory will immediately be followed by general election (parliamentary polls) in which we (opposition parties) are trying to get two thirds majority,” Fonseka said.

Ex-army chief for ‘best ties’ with India

Sri Lankan presidential hopeful and former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Sunday said he would forge the “best relationship” with India if elected to the top post in the January polls, noting that New Delhi extended “moral and political support” to his country during its war against LTTE, reports PTI from Colombo.