Sri Lanka’s defeated presidential candidate urges calm

February 11, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka has appealed for calm, his wife said Thursday, after violent clashes linked to his arrest on conspiracy charges. “He wanted me to convey to the people and especially the troops to remain calm and not to be provoked by his illegal arrest,” said Anoma Fonseka, who met with her detained husband late Wednesday.

“They are trying to break his spirit, but they won’t succeed,” she told reporters.

Anoma Fonseka was granted access to her husband at the naval detention centre where he is currently awaiting court martial for conspiring against the government. He was arrested on Monday.

His appeal for calm followed violent clashes outside the Supreme Court in Colombo as pro-government activists pelted stones at Fonseka’s supporters.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds outside the court, where his wife had filed a petition demanding his release. A hearing has been set for Friday.

Similar protests were reported in several provincial capitals.

The opposition, meanwhile, said it had enlisted the help of the influential Buddhist clergy to put pressure on the gove