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Sri Lanka Military Chiefs Dismissed   
 
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01-Feb-2010  
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A group of senior Sri Lankan military officers have been dismissed for what defence officials called being a "threat to national security".

The defence ministry said the officers had been "sent on compulsory retirement".

The move follows a bitter general election campaign in which incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa defeated former army chief Gen Sarath Fonseka.

Both have claimed there have been assassination plots against them.

The BBC Sinhala service has learned those dismissed included at least nine high-ranking officers.

A senior military source told the BBC they included three major-generals and four brigadiers.

A number of the officers worked for Gen Fonseka's campaign in the recent elections.

National Security Director-General Laxman Hulugalle said the men had been "involved in party politics" and said that the officers had been dismissed to maintain the discipline and impartiality of the armed forces.

In a BBC interview, Mr Hulugalle said he saw no parallels between the actions during the election of the officers who had been dismissed and those of the president's son, a naval officer, who campaigned for for his father.

Gen Fonseka has refused to accept his election defeat, saying his supporters had been intimidated and the result fixed.

A military source told AFP news agency the officers had been sacked to thwart any attempted coup by Gen Fonseka's supporters inside the military.

In a statement, the defence ministry said an undisclosed number had been "sent on compulsory retirement" because they were considered a "direct threat to national security".

President Rajapaksa and Gen Fonseka had been close allies during the military offensive that defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers last May.

But they subsequently fell out over who should take credit for the military victory.

There has been mounting concern in Sri Lankan media about a government crackdown on its critics.

"Now that the president has been re-elected, there appears to be a settling of scores with critics of the government," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said on Friday.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says the atmosphere in Sri Lanka since the election has been tense.

While the government's critics have accused it of repression, the authorities have accused Gen Fonseka's supporters of planning a coup and of plotting to assassinate the president and his family.
 
 
Source: BBC
 
 

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