2 Feb 2010

Senior army officers sacked by Sri Lankan president

10:38 am on 2 February 2010

President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka has sacked at least nine senior army officers for campaigning against him in last week's presidential election.

National Security Director-General Laxman Hulugalle said their involvement in party politics has made them a direct threat to national security.

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

The BBC reports the move follows a bitter general election campaign in which President Rajapaksa defeated former army chief, General Sarath Fonseka, on 26 January.

Both have claimed there have been assassination plots against them.

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

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

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.

President Rajapaksa and General Fonseka had been close allies during the military offensive that defeated the Tamil Tigers last May. But they subsequently fell out over who should take credit for the victory.