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Updated: February 17, 2010 14:35 IST

Fonseka challenges Rajapaksa’s election

B. Muralidhar Reddy
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Retired General Sarath Fonseka
AP Retired General Sarath Fonseka

General (retired) Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday challenged the re-election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a petition filed in the Supreme Court.

The former Army Chief and defeated presidential candidate contended in the petition that the election was marred by incidents of rigging and electoral malpractices and accused Mr. Rajapaksa of manipulating the result.

General (retired) Fonseka, currently in the custody of the military on charges of conspiring to overthrow the Rajapaksa government, lost the January 26 election to Mr. Rajapaksa by a margin of over 17 percentage points.

A lawyer for General (retired) Fonseka told reporters he had obtained permission earlier from the Supreme Court for the General to sign the petition.

Separately, in their report on the poll, the Commonwealth observers said while it was a well-administered election day, there had been challenges in the run up to the poll.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on Tuesday released the final report of the Commonwealth expert team which observed the January 26 election.

The team’s conclusion was that “even though on the day of the election voters were free to express their will, shortcomings primarily in the pre-election period meant that overall the 2010 presidential elections in Sri Lanka did not fully meet key benchmarks for democratic elections.

“Many of the problems identified reflect the same problems identified during previous elections. These problems — which have also been highlighted by the country’s own Commissioner of Elections — will hopefully receive urgent consideration. The Commonwealth is ready to assist as requested,” said Mr. Sharma.

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