‘I am the only alternative’

Sarath Fonseka

Democratic Party (DP) leader General (retd) Sarath Fonseka yesterday declared that his outfit was the only alternative to a corrupt government as well as a bankrupt Opposition.

Former army commander and defeated presidential candidate, Gen. Fonseka emphasized that the country couldn’t be saved by just replacing the SLFP with the UNP. He said the Opposition was as bad as the government and it would be a mistake to expect the latter to take tangible measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

Successive governments, since Independence hadn’t been able to fulfil the aspirations of the masses and therefore his party could be what the masses were looking for, Gen. Fonseka said, vowing to go ahead with his campaign regardless of threats and intimidation.The former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was addressing media at the Solis reception hall, Pita Kotte after the DP had received political recognition on Monday (April 1).

A smiling Gen. Fonseka urged those disgruntled elements in the UNP as well as his former associates, MPs, Tiran Alles and Arjuna Ranatunga, to throw their weight behind the new movement if they were convinced of the DP’s programme.

Responding to a query, Gen. Fonseka claimed that he had an ongoing dialogue with some powerful and influential personalities in the ruling coalition who could switch their allegiance to the new party depending on the progress it could make.

Asked whether his party would form an alliance to contest future elections, the DP leader said his intention was to contest on its own under the symbol of burning flame. “But anyone willing to join our struggle could do so and the DP wholeheartedly welcomes them,” he said, admitting that the JVP was unlikely to join a DP-led alliance. However, all Opposition parties could take a common stand on some issues, he said. The Democratic Party would contest all future elections under its symbol, Fonseka said.

Gen. Fonseka was cautious in responding to a query regarding the future of dissident UNPers. “Anyone not comfortable being in the UNP can join us,” he said.

Commenting on post-war developments, Gen. Fonseka said that the people hadn’t received any tangible benefits after the conclusion of the conflict due waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector. Although six million people had voted for incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last presidential election, the government had done nothing for them, he said, while estimating the total number of beneficiaries at around 8,000 people. Unfortunately, the Opposition, too, was only interested in looking after its own interests, he added.

Responding to a query by former UNP MP Buddhika Kularatne Gen. Fonseka, reiterated his commitment to abolishing the executive presidency. Recalling the circumstances under which the incumbent president had won the Nov. 2005 presidential election, Fonseka said that parliamentary democracy should be restored. The then Prime Minister Rajapaksa, too, like his predecessors, had promised to do away with the executive presidency, which was inimical to the country, he said.

Gen. Fonseka declared that he wouldn’t succumb to government pressure. Acknowledging his party was faced with an uphill task, the Sinha Regiment veteran said that his struggle couldn’t be disrupted by putting him behind bars again or even by killing him. The government couldn’t suppress 20 million people, though it could get rid of some, the DP leader said, urging the police and the armed forces not to protect corrupt leaders. Fonseka said that the armed forces and the police should be mindful of their duty by the people.

Courtesy: The Island