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Sri Lanka's Ex-Military Chief Announces Presidential Run

Sri Lanka's former military chief has officially announced he will challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the country's presidential elections on January 26

A portrait of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen on the wall as Sri Lankan military chief General Sarath Fonseka looks on at the military headquarters after his retirement in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, 16 Nov 2009
A portrait of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen on the wall as Sri Lankan military chief General Sarath Fonseka looks on at the military headquarters after his retirement in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, 16 Nov 2009

Sri Lanka's former military chief has officially announced he will challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the country's presidential elections on January 26.

General Sarath Fonseka said Sunday in the capital, Colombo that he will run as a common candidate of opposition parties.  He oversaw the military operations that ended 25 years of civil war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.  

The general criticized the president's leadership Sunday, calling him a dictator for failing to return the country to normalcy at the end of the war.

The Sri Lankan government on Friday set January 26 as the date for an early presidential election, nearly two years before the end of the president's six-year term. 

The two main opposition parties have said they will support General Fonseka, who resigned from the military earlier this month after accusing the president of sidelining him and falsely suspecting him of plotting a coup.

Analysts say President Rajapaksa called for early elections in hopes of capitalizing on his popularity following the defeat of the rebels in May.

 

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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