Fonseka, Sarath

Fonseka, Sarath säˈrät fänsĕkˈä [key], 1950–, Sri Lankan general and politician. He joined the army in 1970 and rose through the officer corps. From the early 1980s he led Sri Lankan troops in a 26-year war with Tamil rebels; he was wounded several times and survived a suicide bomb attack. Fonseka spearheaded the war's final phase, in which his forces were accused of human rights violations; he was promoted to full general after the Tamil defeat in 2009 and then was appointed chief of defense staff. Later in 2009 he resigned and soon announced his presidential candidacy. Running against President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he lost (Jan., 2010) but challenged the election results. He was arrested the next month and ultimately charged with participating in politics while in the military, fraud, and other offenses. He was court-martialed, convicted (2010–11) on various charges, and served more than two years in prison before his sentence was commuted (2012). Meanwhile, in Apr., 2010, he won election to Sri Lanka's parliament, but was disqualified after his conviction. Fonseka was amnestied and had his rank restored by Rajapaksa's successor, Maithripala Sirisena, but lost (2015) a bid to a parliamentary seat. In 2016 he was appointed to parliament and named minister of regional development.

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