Amid indications that the Sri Lankan Government would announce the date for Presidential election on Monday, the just retired General Sarath Fonseka and a possible opposition candidate against President Mahinda Rajapaksa has threatened to file a fundamental rights case seeking more security personnel in his security contingent.
English weekly, Lakbima reported that the former Army chief had been offered 25 security men as an initial measure comprising eight soldiers in each shift while he had petitioned for 100 security personnel when he made his farewell call as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) last week.
In response to his representation, President Rajapaksa ordered that he be given 62 security personnel comprising two officers, 10 commandos and 50 Sinha regiment soldiers.
Gen. (retd) Fonseka’s contention is that of the 62 security men he could use about 20 soldiers in a shift and that the security squad was not enough to meet the threat to his life.
“Yes I am contemplating going to courts over my security cover”, he told Lakbima in response to a question on his security contingent post-retirement.
Though the opposition parties in the island are still in the process of consultations among themselves on their strategy in the event of a Presidential election, Gen. (retd) Fonseka has made up his mind and has even chosen the venue for his election office.
In an interview to English weekly The Sunday Leader the `war hero’ bitterly complained, “Contrary to all previous false reports I allowed my predecessors both General Shantha Kottegoda and Donald Perera to continue in this house for three and a half months after they had retired from service.
“Yet, I as Chief of Defence Staff am being treated like dirt-given a mere week to get out. I don’t in any case want to stay in this place, I am very keen to go. If I choose to go to court on this matter they will lose.”
“We did find a few houses that were suitable and the owners were initially more than willing to rent to us-but when we went back they refused to rent to me. They had been pressured by them,” . Fonseka charged. Asked who “them” was he said, “The Defence Ministry and its Secretary.”
Gen. (retd) Fonseka submitted his resignation to President Rajapaksa on November 12 citing 16 reasons and was granted permission to retire from November 16.
In his four-page November 20 `farewell’ letter addressed to the troops he had said, “No matter whatsoever obstacles will be encountered, I assure that I will dedicate myself to secure the weakening democracy, human rights, media freedom, social justice and secure communal harmony and also will be with you as a shadow for the wellbeing of the future”.
He was at pains to emphasise that it is the soldiers and officers of the three services who are the `real war hero’s’ and went on to add “you all faced this war as very professional soldiers. Hence we won this war graciously. We have to maintain this dignity within the Army in the future. We should not allow anybody to tarnish the honour of the Army and we should not allow anybody to politicise the Army. Even though others attempt to blemish us we should remember that we are the real hero’s of the victory of the war”.
Gen. (retd) Fonseka further complained, “An official function was scheduled to be held on November 26th at the farewell of my 40 years service in the Army. The Commanders of the Three Forces and the Inspector General of Police did not get an opportunity to participate in this event.
“My security was decreased to 25 in spite of my request to provide a unit of 100 soldiers because of the threats on my life. On repeated requests it is stated that I will be provided 60 soldiers and 3 vehicles. I have been ordered by the highest authority to vacate the official residence as soon as I have retired. Although many obstacles have arisen to find a suitable rented house some are trying to drag me on to the road. It is a well known fact that a house to be built on your behalf is none other than giving birth to a mouse after suffering much pain akin to a mountain”