Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, known as Sarath Fonseka (Sinhala: සරත් ෆොන්සේකා, Tamil: சரத் பொன்சேகா, born 18 December 1950) is a former commander and General of the Sri Lanka Army and a former candidate for President of Sri Lanka. As Commander of the Army, he played an instrumental role in ending the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the process. He later had a public falling out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential election.
Fonseka joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1970 and saw extensive action throughout the 26 year civil war, culminating in a term as Commander of the Army from 6 December 2005 - 15 July 2009. As commander, he oversaw the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which resulted in the total defeat of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organisation. He also survived an assassination attempt when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked his motorcade in April 2006. Following the end of the war Fonseka was promoted to a four star rank in the Sri Lanka Army, becoming the first serving officer to hold a four star rank. He has been described as Sri Lanka's most successful army commander, and his successful conduct of the war led the Indian National Security Advisor Kelath Narayanan to describe him as the "best army commander in the world".
A few months after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Fonseka was appointed Chief of Defence Staff by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. While his new post was of a higher rank, Fonseka saw the move as an attempt to sideline him. Amid rumours of his desire to enter politics, he subsequently retired from the post on 16 November 2009. On 29 November 2009, Fonseka formally announced his candidature in the 2010 Sri Lankan Presidential Election. His candidacy was endorsed by the main opposition parties, and Fonseka became the main opposition candidate challenging President Rajapaksa. He campaigned under the sign of a swan, and the slogan Vishvasaniya Venasak (A Credible Change). In the election, held on 26 January 2010, he was convincingly defeated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who obtained 57% of all votes cast.