Fonseka says he's victim of 'illegal' arrest

Fonseka says he's victim of 'illegal' arrest

"The nation requires democracy, rule of law, personal freedom and freedom for the media," 59-year-old Fonseka, who is being court-martialled on charges of indulging in illegal defence deals and politics while in uniform, said in his first public remarks since his February 8 arrest. Attired in the national dress -- a white collarless 'kurta' and 'dhoti', the former top General said he would support any move to protect the democratic rights of the people.

Fonseka, the leader of the opposition Democratic National Alliance (DNA), arrived in Parliament under tight security and was seated in the front row along side senior JVP member and ally Anura Kumara Dissanayake. He also greeted Chamal Rajapaksa, the new Speaker and brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on the opening day of Parliament.

The former army chief was elected from the Colombo District constituency as his DNA managed to bag only seven seats in the April 8 Parliamentary polls while the main Opposition United National Party secured 60 against the ruling UPFA's 144. The UPFA fell short of a two-third majority by six seats in the unicameral 225-member Parliament.

"The democratic right of the people should be safeguarded. The freedom of expression should be protected. The people should be protected from illegal arrest. I am one of them who is undergoing illegal arrest," Fonseka said in his address to Parliament. Fonseka, who was instrumental in the defeat of the LTTE last year, had also unsuccessfully contested the January 26 Presidential polls, in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa had secured another six-year term in office.

In his address to Parliament, R Sampanthan, the newly-elected chief of the Pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance, said his 14 party members were ready to support any arrangement for solving problems of the people, an apparent reference to the political solution for the Tamil-dominated Northern region.His remarks came after new Prime Minister D M Jayaratne said that Sri Lanka was undergoing a new beginning after the end of the three-decade conflict, with the defeat of the LTTE in May last year.

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