Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sarath Fonseka - Former Sri Lankan General - Bio

About Sarath Fonseka - Former Military Chief.


Former military chief and then presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka during a Jan. 22 election rally outside Colombo

After winning the war, Sarath Fonseka seems to have lost the battle. The former chief of Sri Lanka's army chose to run against his ex-boss, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in last month's elections and was defeated by nearly 2 million votes — a few complaints of polling irregularities notwithstanding. On Feb. 8, Fonseka was seized by military police for allegedly conspiring to launch a coup, a charge his supporters say is trumped up. The arrest has deepened concerns over the increasing heavy-handedness of Rajapaksa's rule, which has seen allegations of human-rights abuses as well as the suppression of journalists and other organs of dissent. For Fonseka, who is due to be court-martialed, it's a long fall from the glory days of last year when — as Rajapaksa's right-hand man — he led a decisive military campaign ending the three-decade-old insurgency of the Tamil Tigers, one of the world's most ruthless separatist groups.
Quick Facts:
• Born on Dec. 18, 1950, in Ambalangoda, a coastal town in the island nation's southwest. He joined the army in 1970 as a staff officer and gradually rose through the ranks.
• As a colonel in the field, Fonseka led a 1993 operation dubbed Midnight Express to relieve government troops holed up in a fort in the Tamil Tiger hotbed of Jaffna, rescuing several hundred soldiers and winning commendations for his bravery. Accompanying him on the mission was Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of the President, and currently Sri Lanka's iron-fisted — and allegedly corrupt — Secretary for Defense.
• Fonseka furthered his reputation during the pivotal Operation Riviresa in 1995, in which he led a brigade that helped finally seize the town of Jaffna, a Tiger stronghold.
• In 2006, Fonseka, by then a Lieutenant General, was nearly killed by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber (the group pioneered the deadly tactic following the start of its war for an independent Tamil homeland in 1983). After receiving treatment abroad, Fonseka returned to his desk within three months of the attack.
• As the country's top military commander in May 2009, Fonseka was the architect of the final campaign that encircled the last remaining Tamil Tiger positions from the north and east and led to the killing of the Tigers' notorious leader, Velupillai Prabakharan.
• In November, Fonseka resigned his post after falling out with Rajapaksa, whom he claimed was trying to sideline him within the country's military hierarchy and was taking too much credit as a civilian for waging a war fought by Fonseka's troops.
• Fonseka threw his hat into the ring for the Jan. 27 presidential elections, then considered just a formality for Rajapaksa, and provided the incumbent a real political challenge. Though he cobbled together a loose coalition of opposition, Muslim and ethnic Tamil political parties, Fonseka ultimately failed to win enough votes. The country's Tamil and Muslim minorities were largely disenchanted with both candidates, who hail from the country's ethnic Sinhalese majority.
• In the aftermath of the election, Fonseka refused to accept the results, speaking conspiratorially of plots to assassinate him. His opponents in power accused him of planning to topple the government; on Feb. 8, over 100 soldiers burst into a political meeting Fonseka was attending and took him away as prisoner.
Quotes By:
"We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism."
— To Sri Lankan state television after security forces defeated the last remaining Tamil Tigers, effectively ending one of the world's longest-running civil wars (CBC News, May 18, 2009)
"I am both disgusted at the way they have treated me and extremely disillusioned ... [My government-assigned security guards] are all new men. They could be an assassination squad — maybe they are trying to assassinate me."
— After stepping down from his military position and entering civilian life in the opposition (Sunday Leader, Nov. 22, 2009)
"The country in the future will be free of corruption. Democracy will be restored. Your children will have a bright future."
— At a Jan. 24 election rally (New York Times, Jan. 24, 2010)
Quotes About:
"[Fonseka] has to answer to the people. We have a lot of allegations against him. [Sri Lankans] don't want anarchy. They don't want dictatorship. So they rejected Fonseka."
— Basil Rajapaksa, younger brother and adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the aftermath of Fonseka's defeat at the polls on Jan. 28. Rajapaksa hinted at Fonseka's rumored plans to overthrow the government (Indo-Asian News Service, Jan. 28, 2010)
"This is a military matter that has nothing to do with politics."
— Brigadier V.U.B. Nanayakkara, a Sri Lankan military spokesman, in the wake of the Feb. 8 arrest on the grounds of committing "military offences" (New York Times, Feb. 9, 2010)
"The way the troops spoke to General Fonseka and the way they forcibly dragged him away is a disgrace to the security forces. It is a shameful way to treat your former commander."
— Rauf Hakeem, leading Sri Lankan Muslim politician and Fonseka ally, after witnessing Fonseka's arrest (AFP, Feb. 9, 2010)
"This is not an arrest. It is an abduction."
— Anoma Fonseka, Sarath Fonseka's wife, pleading at a press conference that she knew little of her husband's whereabouts or medical condition (AFP, Feb. 9, 2010)

Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka 

from Wikipedia.

Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, known as Sarath Fonseka (Sinhala: සරත් ෆොන්සේකා, Tamil: சரத் பொன்சேகா, born 18 December 1950) is a former commander and General of the Sri Lanka Army and a former candidate for President of Sri Lanka. As Commander of the Army, he played an instrumental role in ending the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the process. He later had a public falling out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential election.
Fonseka joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1970 and saw extensive action throughout the 26 year civil war, culminating in a term as Commander of the Army from 6 December 2005 – 15 July 2009. As commander, he oversaw the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which resulted in the total defeat of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organisation. He also survived an assassination attempt when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked his motorcade in April 2006.[1] Following the end of the war Fonseka was promoted to a four star rank in the Sri Lanka Army, becoming the first serving officer to hold a four star rank.[2] He has been described as Sri Lanka's most successful army commander.
A few months after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Fonseka was appointed Chief of Defence Staff by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. While his new post was of a higher rank, Fonseka saw the move as an attempt to sideline him. Amid rumours of his desire to enter politics, he subsequently retired from the post on 16 November 2009.[3][4] On 29 November 2009, Fonseka formally announced his candidature in the 2010 Sri Lankan Presidential Election. His candidacy was endorsed by the main opposition parties, and Fonseka became the main opposition candidate challenging President Rajapaksa. He campaigned under the sign of a swan, and the slogan Vishvasaniya Venasak (A Credible Change).
Following his election defeat, Fonseka was arrested on 8 February 2010, and the government announced he will be court-martialed for committing "military offences."[5] He was found guilty of corrupt military supply deals and sentenced to three years in prison.[6] After serving more than 2 years in prison, Fonseka was released on 21 May 2012.[7]


Early life

Fonseka was born to Peter and Piyawathie Fonseka in Ambalangoda, a coastal town in the south of Sri Lanka. He in initially attended Madawalalanda Maha Vidyalaya (1955–1957) in Ampara,[8] later receiving his secondary education from Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda (1958–1965) and Ananda College, Colombo (1966–1969). In school, Fonseka participated in swimming and water polo events, later representing defence services in these sports.

Military career in the Sri Lankan Army

Fonseka joined the Army during peacetime, in 1970, and held a large number of staff appointments. He rose to the rank of Chief of Staff of the Sri Lankan army, a post he relinquished to take reins as Commander of the Army in 2005.
During his career, Fonseka, was involved in the operations Balawegaya and Jayasikuru, which led to the capture of the Elephant Pass and Mankulam. The 6th Battalion of his Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, which was under siege at Elephant Pass in 1991, repulsed the LTTE attack with reinforcements. He served as Deputy General Officer Commanding during Riviresa, the capture of Jaffna from the Tamil Tigers in December 1995. Later, troops commanded by Fonseka offered stiff resistance to Tamil Tigers in 2000 following the Fall of Elephant Pass, ultimately having to flee since they were unable to withstand the attack. Fonseka was wounded in 1993 in the Yaldevi operation.
Among other appointments, he commanded the 23 Brigade of the Sri Lankan Army at Polonnaruwa in 1993, he served in the General Staff at Army Headquarters, he was a Centre Commandant of the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, Brigade Commander in Operation Balawegay, Deputy Commandant of the 5 Brigade Group, Mannar and Coordinating Officer for Gampaha.

"Midnight Express"

In 1993, the Jaffna Fort was under siege by Tamil Tiger rebels. Then Colonel Fonseka led troops in the Midnight Express operation to relieve the besieged position. Several hundred soldiers were saved due to the operation.

Suicide bomb attack

On 25 April 2006, Lt. General Fonseka survived an LTTE suicide bomb attack by a pregnant LTTE operative named Anoja Kugenthirarasah who infiltrated Army Headquarters by attending the regular maternity clinic provided for civilians at the military hospital.[9][10] Fonseka was seriously injured in the attack, and nine others were killed. The General was rushed first to the military hospital at Army Headquarters, transferred to the Colombo General Hospital and later flown to Singapore for medical treatment. After recovering from his injuries, he resumed his duties in July 2006.[11]

Defeat of the LTTE

On 18 May 2009, the Sri Lankan military completely defeated the LTTE after 26 years of civil war.[12] Foneseka played a key role in the final stages of the conflict as Commander of the Army, and is considered as a national hero by the majority of Sri Lankans due to this achievement.[13][14]

Chief of Defence staff

Fonseka was appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) by President Rajapaksa effective 15 July 2009. He was the first person appointed CDS under the newly approved Chief of Defence Staff Act, which was supposed to give the CDS more responsibilities in coordinating the armed forces.


Fonseka officially handed over his letter of resignation to the President through the Defence secretary on 12 November 2009. He requested to serve as CDS until the end of the month, He resigned from that post to compete as a candidate for the presidential election which was held in January 2010. He left office on 16 November 2009,[15] President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed Air Force Chief Roshan Goonatilake to succeed Fonseka on 16 November 2009.


Post-war politics

There were newspaper reports published about General Fonseka entering politics after the war victory, beginning in August 2009. One of the articles explains it as follows, "General Fonseka launches political campaign – I will make a supreme sacrifice to defend my land against the politicos who ever they may be joining hands with India. Now we have a daunting task to protect our motherland from India".[16] Gen. Fonseka entering politics was a debate even during the war against LTTE.[17]
Gen. Fonseka was installed as the common candidate by a coalition of political parties mainly United National Party (UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Gen. Fonseka however declared himself as a non party candidate.
With support of UNP and JVP Fonseka claimed that he himself defeated the LTTE.
Immediately after declaration that Fonseka was ready for candidacy, President Rajapakse called for new presidential election two years before expiration of his term.
Gen. Fonseka, UNP and JVP led a fierce battle against President Rajapakse. They claimed that Gen Fonseka was the real hero who won the war against LTTE and Fonseka government was ready for good governance along with the support of all the minorities, eliminate prevailing corruption under Mahinda Rajapaka government and also promised a massive salary increase for public servants which had been denied thus far. They also promised to change the constitution to remove executive powers from the presidency and transfer such powers to the parliament. Further they promised to establish the 17 amendment to authorise independent commissions as a measure to counter the ongoing mishandling of public money.[18]
Fonseka suffered a number of setbacks in his election campaign. In December 2009, A news item was published in local newspaper "Sunday Leader" quoting Sarath Fonseka saying that during the final few days of the war against LTTE, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse (who is a brother of the President) gave orders to the army senior officers to execute LTTE cadres who surrendered to the Army.[19] Due to the massive publicity given in the state media, this statement was taken by the whole country as betrayal of army officers by the retired army commander himself.[20] Although Gen. Fonseka later issued a statement saying that his original statement has been published by the Sunday Leader out of context, many analysts say that Fonseka lost the election from that moment.[21]
Meanwhile, in the next attempt government put some evidence before public that Gen Fonseka was corrupt while he was the commander of the Sri Lanka Army. There was evidence that he removed the tender board chairman from the office and he himself became the chairman only to offer all the tenders to a company owned by his son-in-law. Adding fuel to the fire, one of his close friends living in Oklahoma USA "Upul Illangamge" spilled the beans by disclosing to the media in a press conference how the company was formed, registered in USA and Fonseka's son-in-law sold 3 million rupees worth equipment necessary for the war during the final three years of the war. Fonska claimed that the company referred in the accusation has no connection to his son-in-laws company although both companies share one name: Hicorp. But this allegation was on all public & state media supporting the government day and night and it had been used as a mean of discredit his reputation and attempts were also made to label him as a traitor by key spokespeople in the government.
Then Sri Lanka's Tamil political party faithful to LTTE- Tamil National Alliance (TNA) agreed to support Sarath Fonseka in the Presidential Election after having several discussions with both Mahinda Rajapakse and Gen. Sarath Fonseka. Then government disclosed a secret agreement between TNA and Gen Fonseka in which Fonseka had promised merger of North and East provinces and an autonomous status for Tamils in return for the support of the north and east Tamil population in the Presidential election.But opposition leaders prove that agreement was a fake one with fake signatures adapted by another resources.But some Sinhalese reacted with anger to this agreement since the army fought 30 year old bloody war against LTTE only to reject similar autonomous state "Ealam" claimed by the LTTE. Also opposition revealed a secret written agreement between Mahinda Rajapaksa and EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda who was a Tamil politician faithful to Rajapakse.[22]
Sarath Fonseka however sincerely expected that he was set for a massive win on 26 January 2010. There were reports that say that he intended to arrest President Mahinda Rajapakse and immediately execute Gotabaya Rajapakse and Basil Rajapakse(two brothers of the president). He booked 70 rooms of a five star hotel some hundred metres away from the President's House for the night of 26 January 2010.
State Media reports say that a large number (some 400) of deserted army soldiers spent the night with Gen Fonseka at the hotel to enjoy the election results. It was then learned that the whole allegation was false! because the government arrested 9 persons that official body guards of Gen. Sarath Fonseka that provided for his personal security by Army.[23]
Election results were released by the election commissioner electorate by electorate in the morning of 27 January 2010.

After Presidential Election 2010

Sarath Fonseka refused to accept the election results published by the Election Commissioner.[24][25] He also said he would consider legal action but did not indicate against whom. There are reports that say Sarath Fonseka is making every possible attempt to leave the country as early as possible quoting him saying "I cannot even leave the country, Rajapakse has blacklisted my passport along with my family, including my daughters' who are still studying in USA".[26] Some newspapers reported that he is seeking asylum in Australia, UK or India. Meanwhile BBC announced that Gotabaya Rajapakse is intending to take legal action against Sarath Fonseka for leaking top secret government information. Later he stated in a press conference that he does not intend to leave the country, rather would stay with the people who voted him to see the justice is established.
On 28 January 2010 CID began its new investigations on claims made by several ministers of Rajapakse government that Fonseka was planning a coup to remove Rajapakse in case of close election results on 26 January In connection with this investigation, a media institution "Lanka" run by JVP who helped Fonseka during presidential election was sealed on 30 January 2010 by the CID with a court order. Within few days the court accepted the appeal and ordered CID to re-open the office.[27] Sri Lanka Army has arrested Sarath Fonseka for committing military offences on 8 February 2010.


Fonseka became a political prisoner after running for presidential election against the current president Mahinda Rajapaksha.[28] He was arrested at his office in Colombo on 8 February 2010 by Military Police,[29] and taken into military custody. The military announced he will be court-martialed for "committing military offences" during his time as Chief of Defense Staff.[30] Military says he will be charged according the SL ARMY ACT, Section 57(1). The military tribunal in which the case was heard has been challenged on multiple issues including the suitability and qualifications of the judges and the hearing of the case during an official holiday period of lawyers (9 August to 13th, 2010), and his lawyers were not present. Furthermore, because the witnesses were summoned during the aforementioned period, the lawyers of the accused never had a chance to interrogate the witnesses. Amidst all these issues, the panel of judges found General guilty of the charges,. Later,on 14 August 2010 the President authorised 1st court martial to strip Sarath Fonseka of all Military ranks. It is reported that an appeal is to be made to the high court soon.

General Election 2010

Sarath Fonseka, Leader of Democratic National Alliance, obtained over 98,000 votes only in Colombo District. It is the 2nd highest individual vote obtaining percentage ever in the Election, 89.0%. General Sarath Fonseka was a Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament, until he was sentenced to serve a two and half year prison sentence which made him unable to continue his membership in the chamber according to the Sri Lankan Constitution. However, he requested the Court of Appeal to issue writs against the cashiering, prison sentence and removal from parliament. The petition on the prison sentence was rejected in December 2011 and he appealed to the Supreme Court in January 2012. Other two petitions are still being hearing in the Court of Appeal.


His awards and decorations include the Gallantry Medals; Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP), Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), distinguished service medals; Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya (VSV), Uttama Seva Padakkama (USP) and other notable medal campaign medals; Riviresa Campaign Services Medal, Purna Bhumi Padakkama, North and East Operations Medal, Desha Putra Sammanaya and several others.

Sri Lankan awards

In Order of Precedence

Personal life

Sarath Fonseka is married to Anoma Indumathi Munasinghe, daughter of D.J.and Eugine Munasinghe of Dematagoda, and has two children Aparna & Apsara.

Hi-Corp Case

High Court judge Sunil Rajapaksa on 15 March 2012 acquitted Sarath Fonseka from the Hi-Corp case, dismissing it by saying that he cannot be sentenced twice on the same offence.

Sarath Fonseka
New Democratic Front candidate for
President of Sri Lanka
Election date
26 January 2010
Opponent(s) Mahinda Rajapaksa (UPFA) and numerous others.
Incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa
Personal details
Born Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka
18 December 1950 (age 61)
Ambalangoda, Southern Province, Dominion of Ceylon
Nationality Sri Lankan
Political party New Democratic Front
Spouse(s) Anoma Indumathi Munasinghe
Children Aparna and Apsara
Alma mater Madawalalanda Maha Vidyalaya, Ampara Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda
Ananda College, Colombo
Occupation Soldier
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Military service
Service/branch Sri Lanka Army
Years of service 1970–2009
Rank General
Commands Chief of Defence Staff
Commander of the Army
Battles/wars Sri Lankan Civil War,
Insurrection 1987–89
Awards Rana Wickrama Padakkama,
Rana Sura Padakkama,
Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya,
Uttama Seva Padakkama,
Desha Putra Sammanaya
(partial list)

See also


  1. ^ Profile: Gen Sarath Fonseka. BBC News, Retrieved on 12th_November_2009
  2. ^ Armed Force Commanders promoted to next higher ranks. Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order, Retrieved on 18 May 2009
  3. ^ Haviland, Charles (16 November 2009). "S Lanka army head leaves abruptly". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Sri Lanka military chief resigns". BBC News. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  5. ^ Former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka in military custody, Media Center for National Security
  6. ^ Sri Lanka jails ex-army chief Fonseka AFP – 17 September 2010
  7. ^ "Sarath Fonseka". Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  8. ^ General Fonseka visits his first school in Ampara. Lanka Truth, Retrieved on 7 January 2010.
  9. ^ If This is Called Peace Time Magazine, Retrieved on 30 April 2006.
  10. ^ "Mia Bloom – What the Tigers Taught Al-Qaeda". Washington Post. 24 May 2009.
  11. ^ "Bomb targets Sri Lanka army chief". BBC News. 25 April 2006.
  12. ^ "'He Told the task accomplished'". Press Release, Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order.
  13. ^ Sri Lankan warrior has president in his sights. Telegraph (UK), Retrieved on 17 January 2010.
  14. ^ "General intentions". The Economist. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  15. ^ Tribute to the fallen. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka), Retrieved on 16 November 2009.
  16. ^ General Fonseka launches political campaign. Lanka News Papers, Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
  17. ^ Is Lt.Gen Sarath Fonseka nurturing a Political Ambition After Retirement?
  18. ^ Sarath Fonseka’s Election Manifesto. (2010-01-07). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  19. ^ “Gota Ordered Them To Be Shot” – General Sarath Fonseka | The Sunday Leader. (2009-12-13). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  20. ^ Rajapaksa Gets Astounding 98% Of Time On State Media | The Sunday Leader. (2010-01-24). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  21. ^
  22. ^ The Mahinda Rajapakse-Douglas Devananda Agreement: | The Sunday Leader. (2009-12-20). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  23. ^ A senior army officer netted in on wild card charges. (2010-02-01). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  24. ^ We do not accept the distorted result of the election – Gen. Fonseka. (2010-01-28). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  25. ^ "Sri Lanka poll victory challenged". BBC News. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Another prey for 'Idi Amin' – ‘Lanka’ sealed!. (2010-01-30). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
  28. ^ "9000 political prisoners including Sarath Fonseka 9000 political prisoners including Sarath Fonseka". Ada Derana.
  29. ^ "Fonseka to face Court Marshal: MCNS". Ada Derana. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  30. '^ General Fonseka arrested, Daily Mirror, 8 February 2010


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