Friday, February 19, 2010

Sri Lankan parties part ways

B. Muralidhar Reddy - Sri Lanka's mainstream opposition parties, which demonstrated a rare unity by backing the presidential candidature of the former Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, have decided to part ways and form their own alliances for the April 8 parliamentary election.

The (UNP) has decided to fight under its own election symbol and is wooing several smaller opposition parties that had thrown their weight behind General (retired) Fonseka.

So far, Mangala Samaraweera, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) led by Rauff Hakeem and the Democratic People's Front (DPF) led by Mano Ganeshan have agreed to contest under the UNP symbol.

Ironically, the man who brought the opposition parties together, General (retired) Fonseka, is expected to lead an alliance floated by the JVP. The JVP is expected to fight the election as the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) under the leadership of the retired General.

It would be an uphill task for the two opposition alliances in facing up to the buoyant ruling combine, the United Party Freedom Alliance led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The signs of disunity in the opposition were evident soon after the presidential election result was announced.

While Ranil Wickremsinghe, leader of the main opposition party chose to describe the election as fair, the JVP dubbed the Mr. Rajpaksa's victory the biggest computer fraud in the nation's electoral history.

Release ordered

Meanwhile, a court ordered the release of 14 supporters of General (retired) Sarath Fonseka. They were held on February 8 in a raid on the election office of General (retired) Fonseka on the charges that they were part of a coup to overthrow the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Local media reports said Colombo Magistrate Champa Rajaratne released the accused, including 10 retired Army officers, as the police had failed to establish their involvement in the alleged plot by the ex-General.

The General is under military custody and being tried under military rules as he had quit the service less than six months ago.

© The Hindu

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