05/22/2012, 00.00
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Gen. Fonseka released and vows to devote life to Sri Lanka

by Melani Manel Perera
Perhaps a future in politics, as requested by many. But many do not see him as political leader and judge his release a move by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A Catholic priest: "To be a leader for the country, you must act without revenge and respect the rights of all ethnic groups and religions."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "I will devote my life to Sri Lanka. I hope to give you and new generations a better future, free from corruption. I promise to bring a springtime to the nation": these were the first words uttered by former General Sarath Fonseka on his release late yesterday evening. Nearly two thousand people waiting outside the Walikada prison, where he served a sentence of 30 months, waving national flags and shouting "Long live our hero and leader." Across the country, people celebrated his release with fireworks and fairs. Many now want to see the former military leader, who won the war against the Tamil Tigers, enter politics. However, there are doubts among his own supporters, convinced that Fonseka is not ready to lead Sri Lanka.

Presidential candidate in 2010, his arrest came two weeks after the presidential elections, which saw the triumph of the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vote was much criticized, and representatives of civil society have denounced fraud, the excessive deployment of the army and an predictable arrest warrant for the Gen. Fonseka.

Fr. Maria Anthony, a former provincial superior of the Jesuits at the time in Pakistan, is among those in favor of a return of Fonseka in politics: "He should run again, to challenge the current regime, but without sentiments of revenge, respecting the values ​​of all primary religions of the country".

According Nimalka Fernando, human rights activist and lawyer, "the general should return to politics and ally himself with Ranil Wickramasinghe and Sambandan (leader of the opposition, ed)." She then notes that "the pardon 'granted' by President Rajapaksa does not change the fact that Fonseka was arrested and imprisoned illegally. The General should establish a case against the president and lead a campaign to restore the rule of law and the 'independence of the judiciary. "

Lester Jansz, Sri Lankan who lives in Qatar is not in favor of a new descent into the political arena. He told AsiaNews: "His release is just a political move. President Rajapaksa knew about the poor health of the general, and the eventual death in prison Fonseka was the beginning of the end of his term." Moreover, he adds, "I do not think that the general can be a good leader for the country. He is politically immature as it is used to giving orders to the military, managing a parliament, and opposition, is quite different. But, he could offer his expertise to solve the problem of crime. Provided that the current government will allow him. "

Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando, a Catholic priest is also wary. According to the religious, before another run for the presidency he must first prove to be a true leader. "This - he tells AsiaNews - can only happen if he fights corruption, is not vindictive has respect for his opponents, can forgive Tamil rebels still in prison and ward off all enemies, even those who will be in his party. And, above all, if he respects the rights of all ethnic groups and religions in this country. "


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See also
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Various parties and groups pledge to struggle “till the end” for Sarath Fonseka’s release
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