Among the 16 reasons cited by Sri Lanka Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka in his letter, seeking pre-mature retirement from the military with effect from December 1, to President Mahinda Rajapaksa include Government loss of faith in him and request by Colombo to New Delhi on October 15 to place its troops on alert to counter a possible coup by a section of the military.
In his three page letter sent on Thursday afternoon to the Secretary to President, Lalith Weeratunga the General pleaded, “Considering the facts mentioned in the Annex and more, which I am privy to withhold, I am compelled to believe that Your Excellency and the Government has lost your trust and faith bestowed upon me for reasons best known to Your Excellency.
“Hence as the senior most serving military officer in the Country with 40 years of service, such a situation does not warrant a continuation of my duties any longer, thereby I have the honour to request that I be permitted to terminate my services and retire from the Regular Force of the Army with effect from 01st December 2009”.
Army’s image ‘tarnished’ by suspicion of coup
On the events of October 15 Gen. Fonsenka noted, “With a pain of mind it was noted that the same Army which gained victory for the Nation was suspected of staging a coup and thereby alerting the Government of India once again on the 15th of October 2009, unnecessarily placing the Indian Troops on high alert. “This action did tarnish the image and reputation gained by the Sri Lanka Army as a competent and professional organization who was capable of defeating a terrorist group after the Malayan Emergency, in the eyes of the World. This suspicion would have been due to the loyalty of the Sri Lanka Army towards me as its past Commander who led the Army to the historic victory”.
President’s office to send ‘detailed reply’
Confirming the receipt of the resignation letter Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, in response to a question at a news conference on Friday afternoon said, “President Rajapaksa currently in Kandy has directed his office to send a detailed reply to the Chief of Defence Staff”.
The Minister also took serious exception to the leakage of letter written by Gen. Fonseka to the President and said that it is `unethical and immoral’ to make a public communication between the President and sitting CDS without consent of the former.
Mr. Samarasinghe said Mr. Rajapaksa met diplomatic representatives of countries of European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) and exchanged views on a number of subjects. “At the end of his remarks on the current situation in Sri Lanka, the President invited the envoys to ask him any questions they had in mind”.
In his resignation letter Gen. Fonseka has complained that he was removed from the job of Army Chief in July 15 and made the CDS despite his request to allow him continue as Commander of the Army until it celebrated 60th anniversary (October 10, 2009) on the basis of reports from various agencies of a possible coup immediately after the victory over the LTTE. “This fear psychosis of a coup is well known among the defence circle”.
The General has further complained that President has gone ahead with appointment of Jagath Jayasuriya as the new Army Commander against whom disciplinary inquiry is pending.
“Appointing an officer pending a disciplinary inquiry who performed duties only as a holding formation commander in the final battle as my successor, disregarding my recommendations to appoint Major General G. A. Chandrasiri as the Commander of the Army who was the then Chief of Staff and an officer with an exemplary service as the Security Forces Commander in Jaffna for over 3 years. This has already led to a deterioration of the high standards I was capable of introducing to the Army, to my bitter disappointment”, the letter said.
War displaced living in ‘appaling conditions’
Gen. Fonseka said the plight of the war displaced, nearly 1.5 lakh Tamil civilians currently housed in Government run camps in the north, is of great concern to him as they continue to live in `appalling conditions’ due to lack of proper Government planning.
“..today many of them are continuing to live in appalling conditions due to the lack of proper planning on the part of the government and the IDPs who have friends and relatives elsewhere in the country must be given the choice to live with them until proper demining has been done in their areas.
“Your Excellency’s government has yet to win the peace in spite of the fact that the Army under my leadership won the war. There is no clear policy to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people, which will surely ruin the victory, attained paving the way for yet another uprising in the future”, the letter says.
New Indian envoy to present credentials
Meanwhile, the new Indian High Commissioner-designate to Sri Lanka, Ashok K. Kantha who arrived in Colombo on November 12, called on Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday afternoon. A statement by the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Kantha is due to present his credentials to President Rajapaksa shortly.