The next Presidential elections are due in 2016. Because of the public image as the ‘war hero’, the former general is seen by the president as the strongest candidate in the forthcoming elections. As Rajapaksa is himself a lawyer, he cleverly released him without the civic rights to contest in elections for another seven years.
It is obvious President Rajapaksa did not release Mr. Fonseka on local or international or media pressure. Had he done so, Fonseka should have been released long before. There had been massive protests in Colombo led by the opposition soon after his arrest and imprisonment. The European Union and the USA demanded his release even with partial economic sanctions. But Rajapaksa had been waiting to release him at the right time, just to please local and international pressure groups and convince them ‘I listened to your voice as a democratic leader’. In the last few years, President Rajapaksa managed to convince the public that it was him (Rajapaksa) who led the war to the victory as the supreme commander of all the armed forces. The government claimed at the final stage of the war that Fonseka was not even in the country. But this comment was made after they fell out.
Soon after the victory against the separatist LTTE, the government claimed that Fonseka was ‘the greatest army commander in the world.’ Comments by President Rajapaksa cannot make Sri Lankans forget how Fonseka led the battle in that war as the military commander and made enormous sacrifices for the cause. For example, he was badly injured when a suicide bomber made an attempt on his life and he still receives treatment due to the injuries caused to his lungs.