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US to Lanka: Ensure Fonseka's security

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  • Published 29.01.10

Colombo, Jan. 28: The US, while congratulating Sri Lanka for the first national election in decades and President Rajapaksa on his victory, today indirectly batted for defeated Opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka by asking the authorities to ensure the safety and security of all candidates and campaign workers.

A statement released by the US embassy in Colombo said: “We look forward to continuing the partnership between our two countries and working with the government and the people to support a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka.

“We note that the turnout was large in most areas of the country and election day was peaceful in most locations. We also note, however, some reports of possible violations of election law during the campaign, voting and counting, and we urge a thorough investigation of these allegations in accordance with Sri Lankan law and in keeping with the democratic traditions of the country. In addition, we urge the authorities to ensure the safety and security of all candidates and campaign workers”.

One of the allegations made against Fonseka by Rajapaksa’s supporters was that his loyalty to the country was suspect as he was a green card holder.

Guards withdrawn

Security provided to Fonseka has been withdrawn with immediate effect, a military spokesman said today.

Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said four vehicles, including a bullet-proof car, and 20 army personnel had been withdrawn from Fonseka’s security detail.

The decision comes after a face-off yesterday between Fonseka and security forces outside a luxury hotel in Colombo. Immediately after the elections, Fonseka moved into the hotel and informed the election commissioner that his life was in danger.

Director of the media centre for national security Lakshman Hulugalle told reporters here today that Fonseka shifted into the hotel with over 70 retired army officers and deserters to plot Rajapaksa and his family’s assassination.

He said: “We have evidence that the general planned this after opinion polls carried out by the Opposition United National Party predicted a 50:50 split verdict. However, the President won a landslide victory polling over 58 per cent vote.”

Cabinet minister G.L. Peiris said Fonseka, by refusing to accept the people’s mandate had, “crossed all limits” of democratic behaviour.

Addressing a press conference, Prof Pieris said the general alleged rigging of elections to tarnish Sri Lanka's image overseas. He said such allegations had no resonance in Sri Lanka “as people knew the truth”.

He also pointed out that foreign monitors had held that the elections were free and fair. He also said that leaders of parliamentary parties supporting the general, namely United National Party's Ranil Wickremasinghe and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress chief Rauf Hakkim had also accepted the verdict.

Minister Sarath Amunugama asked how Fonseka could have got over 40 lakh votes in the first ever island-wide elections in over a decade if they were manipulated.