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General Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka (born 17 December 1950, known as Sarath Fonseka) RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, RCDSmarker, PSC, SLSR is a former commander of the Sri Lanka Army and a former Chief of Defence Staff of Sri Lankamarker. As Commander of the Army Fonseka played an instrumental role in ending the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009. He was also the first serving officer to be promoted to a four star rank in the Sri Lanka Army.

Fonseka joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1970 and saw action throughout the 26 year civil war, culminating in a term as commander from December 6, 2005 - July 15, 2009. As commander, he oversaw the the final phase of the civil war which resulted in the defeat of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organization. Fonseka has been described as Sri Lanka's most successful army commander, and his run of significant military victories against the LTTE during Eelam War IV led the Indian National Security Advisor Mayankote Kelath Narayanan to describe him as the "best army commander in the world". On April 25, 2006 Fonseka survived an assassination attempt when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked his motorcade. Following the end of the war he was appointed Chief of Defence Staff, a post from which he retired on November 16th, 2009.

There is an ongoing campaign to have General Fonseka run against President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the next Sri Lankan Presidential Election. His resignation was seen as a step in this direction.

Early life and family

Born to Peter and Piyawathie Fonseka of Ambalangodamarker, he had his education at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangodamarker (1958-1965) and Ananda College, Colombomarker (1966-1969). Fonseka is a sportsman who has participated in swimming and water polo events, representing defense services and the country.

Military career in the Sri Lankan Army

Fonseka has held a large number of staff appointments including the office of Chief of Staff of the Sri Lankan army, the post he relinquished to take reins as Commander of the Army.

One contribution as Deputy General Officer Commanding consisted of 'Riviresa', the capture of Jaffnamarker from the Tamil Tigers, in December 1995. Later, troops commanded by Fonseka offered stiff resistance to Tamil Tigers in 2000, following the Fall of Elephant Pass, ultimately having to flee since they were unable to withstand the attack.

Fonseka, was also involved in the operations 'Balawegaya' and 'Jayasikuru', which led to the capture of the Elephant Passmarker and Mankulammarker. The 6th Battalion of his Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, which was under siege at Elephant Passmarker in 1991, repulsed the LTTE attack with reinforcements. He was wounded in 1993 in the Yaldewee operation.

As a Colonel, Fonseka commanded the 23 Brigade of the Sri Lankan Army at Polonnaruwamarker in 1993. Among other appointments, he held Colonel, General Staff Army Headquarters, Sri Lankan Army; Centre Commandant, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, Brigade Commander in Operation Ballavegaya, Deputy Commandant - 5 Brigade Group, Mannar and Coordinating Officer for Gampaha Gum Gumaga.

Defeating the LTTE

On 18th May 2009, the Sri Lanka Army, under the leadership of Gen. Fonseka, together with the Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force, completely defeated the LTTE after 26 years of civil war.. General Fonseka is considered as a national hero by the majority of Sri Lankans due to this achievement.

"Midnight Express"

In 1993, as the Jaffnamarker Fort was under siege for a long period, the then Colonel G.S.C. Fonseka led troops in the "Midnight Express" (not a train name) operation to rescue the besieged troops. Several hundred soldiers were saved in this operation.

Suicide bomb attack

On 25 April 2006, Lt. General Fonseka survived an LTTE suicide bomb attack by a pregnant LTTE operative who infiltrated the army base by attending the regular maternity clinic provided for civilians at the army base military hospital, in which he was seriously injured and nine others were killed. The suicide bomber had infiltrated the heavily-secured Sri Lankan army headquarters in Colombo and attacked the General's limousine when he was on his way to the officer's mess. The General was rushed first to the military hospital at the headquarters and then transferred to the Colombo General Hospital and later flown to Singaporemarker for treatment, and resumed his duties in July..

Chief of Defence staff

He was made the chief of defence staff by the president effective from the 15th July 2009.He is the first CDS appointed,from the newly approved CDS act,which turned the post more responsible about the nations security which enable all three forces are co-ordinated smoothly.

Sinhalese Nationalism

In an interview to Canada’s National Post in September 2008, Sarath Fonseka had said he “strongly believed that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese, but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people”, and of the other communities “They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”


Sarath Fonseka Officially handed over his resignation letter to the President through the Defence secretary on the 12th November 2009. He left the Office on 16th November 2009, as the President had requested him to immediately vacate the office. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had appointed Air Force Chief Roshan Goonatilake on 16th November 2009, to perform the duties and functions of the office of Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) in addition to his present duties as Air Force Chief.


Post War Politics

There were newspaper reports published about Mr. Fonseka entering into politics at the culmination of the war, beginning in August 2009. One of the articles explains it as follows, "General Fonseka launches political campaign - I will make a supreme sacrifice to defend my land against the politicos who ever they may be joining hands with India. Now we have a daunting task to protect our motherland from India" . Gen. Fonseka entering politics was a debate even during the war against LTTE.

There is currently a movement within Sri Lanka to have General Fonseka run against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the next Sri Lankan Presidential Election. He was forced out of his position two weeks prior to when he proposed to resign by Rajapaksa and replaced by Air Force Chief Roshan Goonatilake.

Political Career

General Fonseka November 12 handed over his letter of resignation from his present post of Chief of Defence Staff to President Rajapakse. His resignation is to take effect from 1st of December 2009. General Fonseka who attended the Security Council meeting November 11 under the leadership of President Rajapakse had told about his resignation to the President while at lunch with him and were having cordial discussions. Gen. Fonseka along with the President Mahinda Rajapakse has also attended the official reception at Katunayake Airportmarker that was given to Myanmarmarker Head of State General Than Shwe who arrived in the Island November 12. Following the handing over of his resignation letter, Gen. Fonseka is to attended a religious ceremony at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara 12th evening. On November 29, 2009 at a press conference held in Colombomarker he formally announced his candidature to run against President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the next Sri Lankan Presidential Election which is scheduled to be held on January 26, 2010 and he told,


His awards and decorations include the Gallantry Medals; Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP), Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), distinguished service medals; Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya (VSV), Uttama Seva Padakkama (USP) and other notable medal campaign medals; Riviresa Campaign Services Medal, Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, North & East Operations Medal, Desha Putra Sammanaya and several others.


General Fonseka married to Anoma Indumathi Munasinghe daughter of D.J.and Eugine Munasinghe and has two children Aparna & Apsara.

See also


  1. The hard-nosed realism of General Sarath Fonseka.
  2. The best Army Commander in the world, says Indian Defense Secretary.
  3. Profile: Gen Sarath Fonseka
  5. Sri Lanka military chief resigns.
  6. If This is Called Peace
  7. Tamil Nadu leaders condemn derogatory talk of Fonseka
  8. Tribute to the fallen .
  9. General Fonseka launches political campaign
  10. Is Lt.Gen Sarath Fonseka nurturing a Political Ambition After Retirement?
  12. Sri Lanka military chief resigns.
  13. announces candidature against Rajapaksa
  14. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

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