Mano Ganeshan, leader of Sri Lanka’s Western People’s Front (WPF) and Colombo district parliamentarian, disclosed on Wednesday that his party along with several other opposition parties were engaged in discussions with Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka on fielding him as a candidate against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the event of an election.
In a lengthy response to criticism on how a party which claims to represent aspirations and concerns of Tamils could even consider the General who spearheaded the Eelam War IV, Mr. Ganeshan said his party had sent a set of questions to General Fonseka and was awaiting his response.
The confession of the civil rights activist-cum- politician is significant as Mr. Rajapaksa is set to announce the dates for the general election and a possible presidential election on November 15.
The former Sri Lankan Prime Minister and opposition leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who heads the 12-party opposition alliance, has openly come out in support of the candidature of the General and is scheduled to return on Thursday after consultations with New Delhi on the general situation in Sri Lanka.
“Until then we will say that if his [General Fonseka] answers satisfy us we will decide positively. It is logical. Isn’t it? First let him answer. We are also discussing with the main opposition for alternative candidates. We are also discussing among the Tamil and Muslim parties. There are some efforts made from the government side too for some discussions with me,” said Mr. Ganeshan.
He maintained that as a party which represents the oppressed Tamil minorities, it maintains dialogues with all sources and cannot always be very ambitious and rigid. “We will be wiped off if we refuse to answer all the calls we receive. We cannot be another LTTE. We value engagements.”
Mr. Ganeshan said a “deadly” silence was maintained by all Tamil leaders since General Fonseka’s name was proposed as the common opposition candidate. “But we spoke at the appropriate time and initiated a national dialogue in the media, street corners, households, offices, among the political parties etc. A national dialogue on ‘Sarath Fonseka and Tamil people’”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror in a report said that at a Cabinet meeting, Mr. Rajapaksa told several Ministers that if General Fonseka resigned with the intention of contesting the upcoming presidential election, he would accept it forthwith.
“The President had said there were many reports in this regard and if he received a resignation letter from General Fonseka he would act within half an hour to let the General know that he had accepted the resignation. The President had said he would act with a clear political conscience,” the paper said.