Sri Lanka’s detained opposition leader threatens hunger strike

March 7, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka has threatened to go on a hunger strike to protest against his detention, his wife said Sunday. However, he later fell out with Rajapakse and mounted a failed bid to unseat the president in elections. Fonseka will begin his fast unless allowed to telephone their two daughters studying in the United States, Anoma Fonseka told reporters in Colombo.

“He told the senior-most naval officer guarding him that he will start his death fast from Sunday,” she said.

Fonseka, 59, has been held at a naval detention centre since his arrest on February 8, two weeks after he was defeated in elections by President Mahinda Rajapakse.

The government has yet to specify the charges Fonseka will face, but Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse — the president’s brother — has said he plotted a military coup while in the army.

As the architect of the victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels last May, Fonseka was hailed as a national hero for crushing their decades-long campaign for an independent Tamil homeland.