Fonseka to contest Sri Lankan parliamentary elections

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief who was detained on accusations of sedition after losing presidential elections is set to lead a new opposition coalition in an April parliamentary vote, a party official said today.

Retired Gen Sarath Fonseka has signed nomination papers to contest a seat in the capital Colombo, representing the Democratic National Alliance at the nationwide polls on April 8, party official Vijitha Herath said. His papers will be submitted on Friday.

Fonseka contested the January 26 presidential election with the backing of 14 opposition parties, but lost to the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The military arrested Fonseka nearly two weeks after his heavy election defeat, propelling this island nation into political turmoil as it emerges from a quarter-century of civil war, following the annihilation of the Tamil Tiger rebels last year. Charges against him have not yet been specified, and without a conviction against him, he should be able to contest the vote.

Government officials have alleged several offenses from plotting to overthrow the government while in military service to taking kickbacks on arms deals.

Fonseka signed his nomination papers at the naval camp in Colombo where he is held.