I’m ready to go back to jail – SF

Sarath Fonseka's first press conference after release from bail

Former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka yesterday said in Colombo that he was prepared to go back to prison, if that was the price that had to be paid to topple the corrupt and dictatorial Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Addressing the first press conference since his release from jail on May 21, Fonseka told the local and foreign media at the Taj Samudra in Colombo, that he would not join the Rajapaksa regime, as speculated, since it included a group of persons imbibed with corruption and lawlessness resulting from long years in politics.

Speaking with remarkable composure, in comparison to the brash style associated with his pre-prison days, Gen. Fonseka said that even endless hours of pirith and bana preaching could not change the hearts and minds of the powers that be, since they had been engaged in dirty politics for far too long.

Emphasising that he was not seeking revenge but was on a mission to change the corrupt and violent political culture that had placed the country under unwarranted international pressure, Fonseka said, “In achieving my objectives I am even prepared to go back to jail and eat the humble prison food, for as long as it takes.”

Asked how he intended to reverse the seven-year-ban on contesting elections, the ex-Army Commander said that he would not go on bended knees to anyone, but would adopt the same methods that had led to his release from incarceration after serving two and a half years of a total of a five-and-half-year jail term.

The “forces” that had ensured his early release from prison would also see to it that the seven-year restriction on contesting polls would be reversed soon, he said without identifying who those “forces” were.

On the issue of being stripped of all army ranks and retirement benefits, following his conviction by a Court Martial in the Hicorp case, Fonseka said that he was still the people’s General and they would some day restore him to his legitimate and rightful position.

The Rajapaksas had tried to destroy him by framing false charges, but he had come back stronger and more determined to create a peaceful and prosperous society for all communities which was his objective in entering politics after serving the country loyally on the battle field, Gen. Fonseka said.

The former army commander said that the security forces, by defeating the LTTE, had laid the foundation for creating a united Sri Lanka, but the government had created a bigger hell hole with scant regard for human rights, rule of law, good governance and media freedom.

Declaring that his political journey had just begun, Fonseka said that he wanted to forge a common opposition front and invited all those who truly loved the country to join him.

Rejecting what he called the communal politics practiced by the Rajapaksa regime, Gen. Fonseka said that the need of the hour was to forge a national identity in which all communities were equal partners.

He thanked the numerous people, including his family and the clergy for working tirelessly to have him released from jail.

Sarath Fonseka's first press conference after release from bail

Sarath Fonseka's first press conference after release from bail

Courtesy: The Island / Pix by Getty Images / Reuters