Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday granted the request of General (retired) Sarath Fonseka for a 66-member security contingent amid indications that the General is all set to float a new party and secure support of the opposition combine for the January 23 presidential poll.

The shape of things to come became evident when the Government Information website in a report accused the former Army chief of illegally using 23 vehicles and 110 solders in the name of his security.

“Defence analysts described this highhanded conduct as a gross violation of militarily discipline by the highest ranking officer who had served the military for 40 long years and the Tri-Services for a brief period,” it said and argued that the conduct put a question mark on right of the retired General to speak about discipline, law and order.

A clearer picture on the forthcoming presidential poll is likely to emerge on Thursday after the main opposition front led by the former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, decides on its strategy after the pact between General (retired) Fonseka and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

The pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of the island nation’s opposition parties may still not be complete as Tamil and Muslim parties are yet to reveal their approach to the presidential poll and at least one leader in their camp, New Left Front leader Wickramabahu Karunaratna, declared himself a candidate.

The Western People’s Front’s Mano Ganeshan, who took part in the first ever conference of parties of Sri Lanka Tamils and Muslims at Zurich two days ago, is scheduled to meet General (retired) Fonseka on Thursday.

A few days ago Mr. Ganeshan had written a letter seeking clarifications from the former Army Chief on subjects such as constitutional reforms and protection of rights of Tamils and Muslims.

“The retired General has invited me for a discussion on the questionnaire sent on behalf of my party and I have agreed to meet him. Hopefully, it could help us decide on our strategy on the latest developments”, Mr. Ganeshan told The Hindu.

A joint statement on the November 20-22 Zurich conference appealed for unity among Tamils and Muslims to develop an effective common programme to hold the government accountable for the protection of minorities, and to act as a serious and dependable negotiating partner representing the demands of minorities in the development of meaningful proposals for reform in the island nation.

A press release on the conclave said that those who participated in the three-day deliberations committed themselves to the engagement by all segments of society towards “a just and durable political solution” in the island through a dignified, respectful and peaceful process and agreed to continue the discussions.

The idea of the Zurich gathering, an extraordinary development, has not gone down well among influential sections of the Tamil diaspora. The three communities (Sri Lanka Tamils, Indian-origin Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims) nurse grievances

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