Sri Lanka court rejects challenge to president’s re-election

October 29, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court rejected Friday a challenge to the re-election of President Mahinda Rajapakse filed by his defeated — now jailed — opponent, former army chief Sarath Fonseka. The five-judge bench dismissed the petition after accepting a defence argument that there was insufficient grounds to proceed with the case, a court official said.

Fonseka, who lost the January 26 vote to Rajapakse by a huge margin, alleged that he was robbed of victory because of vote rigging, electoral malpractice and voter intimidation.

Two weeks after his defeat, Fonseka was arrested and placed in indefinite detention. Last month, he was jailed for 30 months after a court martial found him guilty of irregularities in military procurements.

Fonseka was the battlefield architect of the government’s victory over Tamil Tiger rebels in May last year, which ended their 37-year old fight for an independent Tamil homeland.

However, he fell out with Rajapakse and quit in November to challenge for the presidency. He won a seat at April parliamentary elections.