02/12/2010, 00.00
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Colombo under tight control, waiting for General Fonseka’s trial

Opposition leader faces court martial on conspiracy and other charges. From prison, he appeals for calm following recent clashes. The international community and human rights organisations express concern over growing tensions in the country.
Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The government has tightened security in Colombo as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a challenge to the arrest of General Sarath Fonseka. The presidential candidate who lost in last month’s election was arrested on conspiracy and other charges on Monday, provoking clashes between his supporters and those of President re-elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He could be court-martialled because he is still on active duty.

Fonseka has rejected all the accusations and through his wife has appealed to his supporters for calm.  He made the plea to stop recent violent clashes between his supporters and government sympathisers.

The growing tensions in Sri Lanka are worrying the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has discussed the arrest with President Rajapaksa and expressed concern about the latest turn of events in the country.

Special security units have been deployed across the capital. “We have taken preventive measures to ensure that law and order is maintained," police spokesman Prashanth Jayakody said.

In the meantime, opposition parties have criticised President Rajapaksa for centralising power in his hands. Not only is he the head of state, but he also holds the posts of minister of defence, minister of finance, and now minister of information.

In his defence, the president’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accused the United States and Norway of spending “lots of money” on General Fonseka’s election campaign, charges Washington strongly denied.

Human rights groups have also expressed concern over what is happening. Yesterday, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission warned that the opposition leader could be denied “due process” because he will be tried in a military rather than a civil court.

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See also
Gen. Fonseka: The trial is illegal, Rajapaksa wants me in prison within two weeks
Ramos-Horta loses E Timor presidential election, Guterres and Ruak in runoff
Opposition parties and activists against Sarath Fonseka’s conviction
Christians, Buddhists, civil society against General Fonseka’s conviction
Colombo; bomb attack against the home of an opposition leader


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