Colombo,Nov.13 (ANI): General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's ceremonial Chief of Defence Staff and former Army Chief, who oversaw a successful military operation to crush the rebel Tamil Tigers in May this year, has resigned from his post to challenge the country's powerful President, Mahinda Rajapaksa in presidential elections scheduled for April next year.
General Fonseka confirmed that he had stood down from his position as chief of the defence staff but declined to detail his future plans.
"I gave my retirement papers. I have been serving my country in the past and I will serve the country in future as well," the general told reporters after performing religious rituals at a Buddhist temple near Colombo on Thursday.
Fonseka, reports said, is expected to lead an alliance of nine small opposition groups in the election.
Last week, it was announced that the main opposition, the United National Party, had formed an alliance with nine smaller groups to challenge President Rajapaksa, whose current term ends in April.
The Independent quoted them as saying that their main aim was to scrap the country's powerful presidency and increase the say of parliament under a prime minister.
Now, as evidence mounts about a falling-out between the general on the one hand and the President and his brother (Gothabaya) - who heads the defence department - on the other, there have been a flurry of reports in the Sri Lankan media that General Fonseka is in talks with the new coalition to stand as its presidential candidate.
"I can't comment as I am still in uniform. I will decide my future once my retirement comes into effect at the end of this month. I have the same basic right as anybody else," he said.
Some Sri Lankan observers say General Fonseka believes the Rajapaksa brothers have stolen the glory for defeating the LTTE, who had waged a bitter 25-year war, while his own role has been largely overlooked. (ANI)