News24

Sri Lanka's coalition splits

2010-02-19 17:03

Colombo - Sri Lanka's opposition coalition said on Friday that it had split after its defeated presidential candidate was detained on allegations of sedition, further strengthening President Mahinda Rajapaksa ahead of April 8 parliamentary polls.

Opposition official Vijitha Herath said the coalition of four main parties and several smaller groups broke up after its biggest partner, the United National Party, decided to go it alone in the upcoming elections.

The split will weaken opposition prospects of checking Rajapaksa's power by taking control of parliament after his re-election as president last month.

Rajapaksa's ruling coalition controlled 128 seats in the 225-member legislature before it was dissolved for the elections earlier this month.

Herath said other opposition parties were now planning to form a new front with defeated presidential candidate Gen Sarath Fonseka.

Kickbacks

The military arrested Fonseka nearly two weeks after his election defeat. Though charges against him have not yet been specified, government officials have alleged various offences from plotting to overthrow the government while in military service to taking kickbacks on arms deals.

Opposition parties describe Fonseka's arrest as punishment for daring to challenge Rajapaksa.

Fonseka has accused the president of election fraud and has petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the presidential election void.

Rajapaksa and Fonseka were strong allies who together defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels last year, ending the country's 25-year civil war.

But they soon had a falling out and Fonseka quit the army and ran for the presidency against Rajapaksa.