Sri Lanka: UN chief urges due process for arrested opposition leader

9 February 2010

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on authorities in Sri Lanka to ensure the rights and safety of the defeated presidential candidate and former army chief who was arrested yesterday, and said he intends to speak to the country’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the issue.

General Sarath Fonseka, the challenger who received 40 per cent of the vote in the 27 January presidential election, was arrested yesterday by Sri Lankan troops for alleged “military offences.”

Mr. Rajapaksa is also reported to have ordered the dissolution of Parliament with effect from midnight on Tuesday.

Mr. Ban is following developments in the South Asian nation “with concern,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

“He urges the authorities to follow due process of law and provide all the necessary protections and guarantees to his safety,” said Mr. Nesirky.

“He underlined the importance of ensuring a positive political climate as the country prepares for parliamentary elections and in the interest of peace, stability and reconciliation.”

The Secretary-General intends to speak to Mr. Rajapaksa, who was re-elected after obtaining nearly 58 per cent of the more than 10 million votes cast in the recent polls, and will maintain close engagement through his senior advisers, the spokesperson added.


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