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Lankan opposition parties warn of Egypt-type protests

Last Updated: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 21:27

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s main opposition
parties on Saturday warned the government that it will carryout
agitations similar to those sweeping the Arab world as they
planed a major protest against the detention of former army
chief Sarath Fonseka.

The United National Party (UNP) of former premier
Ranil Wickremesinghe said the attack against its MPs and
supporters yesterday was a clear sign that the government was
not willing to allow democratic dissent.

It warned of major protests, similar to those sweeping
across the Arab world, unless the government stopped
"suppression of dissent".

"The protests sweeping across the Arab world is a
result of long years of suppression and we want to remind the
government that people here too will resort to similar
action," UNP deputy Karu Jayasuriya said.

The main opposition parties are planning to stage a
demonstration in the capital on Tuesday to mark one year
of Fonseka`s arrest, just two weeks after he failed to unseat
Mahinda Rajapakse at the January 26 presidential polls.

Fonseka, the war hero credited with crushing the Tamil
Tiger rebels in May 2009, is serving a 30-month jail term
after his conviction by a military court martial in September
last year.

UNP leader Jayasuriya narrowly escaped the attack by
alleged government supporters when they tried to stage a night
vigil outside the country`s main prison demanding the release
of the common opposition presidential candidate Fonseka.

Several vehicles of opposition members were smashed
and nearly a dozen, including UNP MP`s were wounded when
government supporters attacked them with sticks and clubs on
Friday night as the country marked its 63rd anniversary of
independence from Britain, police said.

The leftist JVP, or the People`s Liberation Front said
it condemned the attack against the UNP-led protest in favour
of Fonseka and said the government was clearly bent on
suppressing its political opponents.

The JVP claimed the government had locked up the top
military commander but were cosying up to Kumaran
Pathmanathan, the international leader of the Tamil Tigers and
the main arms procurer of the former rebels.

Pathmanathan is officially in military custody after
government forces reportedly "arrested" him at a south Asian
city in 2010.

However, he is known to be travelling with military
escorts to the country`s north for "political work" in support
of the government.


First Published: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 21:27

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