South Asia

Sri Lanka ex-army chief Fonseka loses seat as MP

Sarath Fonseka leaves court (file photo)
Image caption Government says the former four-star general is no longer a member of parliament

Sri Lanka's former military commander has lost his parliamentary seat after a military court sentenced him to jail for 30 months, authorities say.

The former four-star general, Sarath Fonseka, who led the war against the Tamil Tigers, was recently convicted of corruption in arms procurement.

But the opposition has questioned the legality of the military court and whether he should lose his seat.

They say they will appeal against the verdict. Mr Fonseka denied the charges.

An assistant commissioner of elections told BBC Sinhala that he had received a letter from a top parliamentary official informing him that Mr Fonseka was no longer an MP. The commissioner was asked to name a replacement from the former general's party in accordance with electoral rules.

But addressing parliament, leader of the opposition Ranil Wickramasinghe questioned why the Speaker had not informed the house of the decision, despite having promised to do so.

Mr Fonseka's Democratic National Alliance (DNA) argues the military court is not a proper court established under the constitution.

"We have already written to the elections commissioner saying that the ruling of a court martial - which is not a proper court - does not apply to his parliamentary seat," Tiran Alles, a DNA MP, told the BBC.

Mr Fonseka fell out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa over who should get the credit for last year's military victory over the Tamil Tigers.

He lost the presidential election to Mr Rajapaksa in January but was elected to parliament in April.

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