Fonseka`s replacement for Parliament named

A member of the opposition DNA has been named to replace Sri Lanka`s former army chief Sarath Fonseka in parliament after he was court-martialled to serve a 30-month rigorous jail term for corruption in defence deals.

Last Updated: Oct 08, 2010, 20:00 PM IST

Colombo: A member of the opposition DNA
has been named to replace Sri Lanka`s former army chief Sarath
Fonseka in parliament after he was court-martialled to serve a
30-month rigorous jail term for corruption in defence deals.

The name of Lakshman Nipunaarachchi of the Democratic
National Alliance (DNA) was sent to be gazetted by the
Election Department to fill the House seat that fell vacant
after Fonseka was stripped of the membership following his
jail sentence.

The Sri Lankan constitution allows the candidate
securing the second highest votes to succeed the elected
member of the respective constituency in the event of the
incumbent`s demise or disqualification.

Accordingly Nipunaarachchi`s name has been sent to the
election commissioner to be gazetted as an MP for Fonseka`s
vacant seat, sources said.

Fonseka and Sunil Handunnettiwere were elected to
parliament from the Colombo district. Nipunarachchi is the
next in line from the DNA according to preferential votes.

The 59-year-old retired general`s brief stint as an MP
came to a sudden end in the wake of his 30-month imprisonment
for corruption in defence deals on October 1.

Fonseka is serving his sentence imposed by a court
martial after the ruling was approved by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa in his capacity as the commander in chief of the
armed forces.

He was sent to jail last week for alleged corruption
in defence deals during his tenure as the army chief.

Fonseka had contested the April 8 general elections
from Colombo district and won a seat on the ticket of the DNA
that he led.

DNA General Secretary Vijetha Herath told PTI earlier
that the alliance will challenge the decision. It will send a
letter to both the Election Commission and the Parliamentary
Secretary General as they have no right to disqualify him.

"We will also approach Supreme Court in this regard
shortly," he said.

Dhammika Dassanayake, the acting Secretary General of
Parliament, informed the Elections Commissioner in a letter
yesterday that the seat held by Fonseka has become vacant.

Fonseka?s seat fell vacant in accordance with Section
66-D of the Parliamentary Election Act, amid reports that the
President may consider pardoning the retired general if a plea
is made personally by him or a family member.

The DNA leadership has refused to consider the
possibility of making a plea to the President for pardon.

Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe on Tuesday
asked the President to free the former army chief, amid a
nation wide campaign to secure Fonseka`s release.

In a letter addressed to the President, Wickremasinghe
said that as the leader of the opposition he is acting on
behalf of an opposition parliamentarian and urged the him to
consider the services rendered by the former General.

Fonseka, who successfully led the Sri Lankan military
in the war against the LTTE which ended in May last year, was
charged with favouring a company headed by his son-in-law, who
is also an accused in a separate case filed in the high court
on the same charges.

Fonseka, was was hailed as a hero after he led the
ammy in crushing the LTTE, was arrested two weeks after his
defeat in the January 26 presidential elections.

He was first stripped off his rank and medals by the
first court martial which found him guilty of dabbling in
politics while in uniform, before the second court martial
convicted him of corruption.

Fonseka has claimed the government aims to take
revenge for his attempt to unseat the president and wants to
keep him away from parliament.

PTI