Ex-Army chief Fonseka becomes Sri Lanka’s first field marshal
President Maithripala Sirisena awarded the honourary title to retired Gen Fonseka at an official ceremony in the capital.
Sirisena said ensuring justice for the 64-year-old former army chief was a “responsibility undertaken by the government in our quest for justice for the whole of the army.”
Fonseka, who became the first Sri Lankan to receive the title, was jailed after he unsuccessfully tried to challenge the Rajapksa’s re-election bid in 2010.
But the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena used his executive powers to drop all the charges, including dabbling in politics while in uniform, against Fonseka. He was bestowed the title for “achieving the victory over terrorism”. Fonseka was charged with treason by the previous Rajapksa regime.
Soon after his 2010 poll defeat, Fonseka was detained on a corruption charge relating to military procurements and then given a 30-month jail sentence. He spent two years in jail. He was stripped of his rank, pension and medal he received during his 40-year career and also denied the right to contest polls for seven years.
Fonseka led Sri Lankan troops to victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009. But he and Rajapaksa fell out over who deserved the credit for guiding the country to the victory.
He was eventually released under the international pressure in May 2012.
Fonseka had said he would testify before international tribunals probing the possible war crimes charges during Sri Lanka’s nearly three-decade conflict with the LTTE, angering the Rajapaksa government.
cabinet expanded by inducting 26 opposition lawmakers
Sri Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena roped in 26 opposition lawmakers into his government by giving them ministerial berths, further weakening arch-rival Mahinda Rajapaksa’s hold on Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Sirisena expanded his Cabinet to 40 by handing out ministerial posts to 11 opposition legislators while five others were made ministers of state and 10 deputy ministers. It was the biggest induction of opposition lawmakers into any Lankan government since independence from Britain in 1948. They will join the government headed by SLFP’s arch-rival United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is PM. Analysts say Sirisena has handpicked those who have been treated less favourably by defeated president Rajapaksa.