Sri Lanka presidential rival 'fears arrest'

Sri Lankan state TV says President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the winner of a post-war vote.

Sri Lanka presidential rival 'fears arrest'

Sri Lanka's top opposition candidate said troops had surrounded his hotel on Wednesday, after polling in Sri Lanka's first post-war presidential election ended.

Sri Lankan state TV on Wednesday says President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the winner of a post-war vote.

Final results from Tuesday's poll were not due until after 4 p.m. (1030G), but an estimated two-thirds of all ballots already officially released showed Rajapaksa with 4.2 million votes to 2.8 million for former army commander General Sarath Fonseka.

Early on Wednesday, Fonseka said soldiers had surrounded the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel in the capital, Colombo, where he was staying with former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the official opposition leader, and other opposition party heads.

"These people have surrounded the hotel with military and threatened my security people," Fonseka told Reuters by phone. "They had a plan to surround us and take us into custody and I don't know if this is that phase of that particular operation."

A military spokesman had no immediate comment.

Fonseka in the final days of the campaign said the government had plans to either steal the vote or arrest him should he win. The government denied that.

A senior military source and a top presidential aide said that Fonseka had been put under watch to ensure he did not attempt to organise a coup with his own loyalists in the army he commanded just eight months ago.

"The government doesn't want him to take the first step toward a coup," the military officer said on condition of anonymity.

Fonseka said the accusations prompted him to retire and enter the race with the backing of a coalition of diverse opposition parties whose sole aim has been to beat Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa called the poll two years early, hoping to capitalise on his post-war popularity.


Reuters

Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2010, 11:57
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