Colombo, Mar 18: In a fit of anger, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka a 'fool' and said that there would not be an early pardon for him.
"He is a fool. On 16th November (2009) he was sitting right here (President's office in Colombo) and I asked him if he was interested in contesting (the presidential election) and he said, No, sir... I haven't made up my mind. Even on the day of his last visit he didn't tell me," Rajapaksa said in newspaper report.
Fonseka, who is now being court-martialled on charges of engaging in politics while in still uniform and defence procurement irregularities, contested the Presidential election on Jan 26 in which he was defeated.
"So I advised him. I told him that politics is not the army. In the army, when you have an order they follow. In politics you give order and they react in a different way... I told him, whatever he might think, I know this game and I am going to win this election. Whoever is my opponent doesn't matter to me," Rajapaksa said.
The President made the statements when he was asked to comment on whether the former army chief could be accommodated under the planned national reconciliation.
Rajapaksa said that he could have delayed Fonseka's retirement to prevent him from contesting the election.
"I could have stopped him (from) contesting, because he couldn't retire until I permitted him to. I could have just sat on his retirement request until after the nomination papers were filed... But I let him contest. I didn't want people to say I was frightened," he said.
He said that there would be no early pardon for the former army chief, who was on a holiday in China during the last days of the the war against the LTTE.
"But if I pardon him what about army discipline? What about the court martials of other officers? What can I do! This is the British law. They gave it to India and us," he said.
"Fonseka himself put thousands of soldiers under court martial. At one time the figure was 8,500. I shouted at him and I had to release them," Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa said that Fonseka, who considered India as an 'external threat' was planning to increase the size of the army to 450,000 from 200,000 at the end of the war.
"India's standing army is 1.5 million, its paramilitary forces are about 1 million. So what can 450,000 do against 2.5 million? I told him, let me worry about external forces," Rajapaksa said.
On Fonseka's alleged military coup, the President said that the former Army Chief was upto something.
"There was something going on.I cannot discuss all details as inquiries and legal proceedings are on."
"It is up to the police and security forces to frame the charges. It is not for me to get involved. Let them handle it.
"Whether he is found guilty or not guilty is not my concern. But the procedure must go on. The law must be enforced irrespective of persons," he said.