‘I could have captured state power’

Former war winning army commander and present Minister of Regional Development Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said yesterday he could have captured state power while he was the army commander. But, he said, being a disciplined military officer he had never entertained such an idea. Had he wanted to do so, he could have blocked the four corners of the city of Colombo and formed a government, he said.

Minister Fonseka said so, fielding a question a journalist raised after a public event in Peliyagoda. He confirmed that President Maithripala Sirisena had asked him whether he could play a role in ensuring political stability vis-à-vis politically motivated strikes and other labour agitations allegedly aimed at toppling the government. Minister Fonseka said he respected workers’ rights but sinister moves to unsettle the government had to be countered and he was ready to assist the yahapalana administrate in the task.

Field Marshal Fonseka dismissed Minister S. B. Dissanayake’s claim that President Sirisena had referred to the need for countering anti-government protests with the help of Fonseka by way of a joke. “Minister Dissanayake considers everything a joke and it is time he got serious at least for once,” said a smiling Fonseka, calling Labour Minister W. J. M. Seneviratne, who had also expressed a view similar to Dissanayake’s a person who licked Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s boots. What Seneviratne said should not be taken seriously, Fonseka said.

Minister Fonseka said people should not harbour any fears about what the President had said as the present administration would never emulate the Rajapaksa regime in dealing with workers. “The Rajapaksa government had workers shot and we will never do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, addressing the media yesterday, stood by his statement that President Sirisena had inquired from Minister Fonseka whether the latter could help handle the rising tide of politically motivated labour agitations. “Attempts were made to contradict what I said on previous occasions as well. But, people will see the veracity of my statement at issue.”


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