Colombo clashes over arrested opposition leader

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Colombo clashes over arrested opposition leader

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There have been violent scenes in Sri Lanka’s capital when opposition supporters demanding the release of their defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka clashed with pro-government crowds.

He was arrested on Monday, accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the president, Mahinda Rajapaska.

Police opened fire with tear-gas and water cannon as both sides began hurling rocks at each other.

Among the thousands outside the Supreme Court, pockets of opponents burned posters of the president.

They say Fonseka’s arrest is illegal, and an attempt to undermine them ahead of April’s parliamentary elections.

The President and Fonseka were allies once, considered heroes among the Sinhalese majority for crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels.

But the presidential election campaign dissolved into a slanging match with both men trading allegations of corruption and misconduct.

Rajapaska won by a landslide.