Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse rejects early pardon for Fonseka

SINGAPORE, March 18, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has ruled out an early pardon for his election rival Sarath Fonseka and dismissed the former army chief as a “fool” who was unprepared for politics. In an interview with Singapore’s Straits Times published Thursday, Rajapakse also spelled out his economic ambitions for post-war Sri Lanka and said it would take time to eliminate the vestiges of the Tamil Tiger rebellion.

“He is a fool. On 16th November he was sitting right here and I asked him if he was interested in contesting and he said, ‘No, sir… I haven’t made up my mind.’ Even on the day of his last visit he didn’t tell me,” Rajapakse said.

“So I advised him. I told him that politics is not the army. In the army, when you have an order they follow. In politics you give an order and they react in a different way,” he added.

Fonseka, who led government forces to victory last year against the Tamil Tiger separatist rebellion, was arrested by the military on February 8, two weeks after he lost the presidential election.

He is now facing a court martial on charges of engaging in politics while he was still commander of the army, and of making irregular procurements.