Chandrasiri Bandara, Sri Lanka’s most popular astrologer, looked at his birth chart and predicted that he would soon be assassinated. Bandara, 48, fears for his life because of a string of death threats that followed his bold forecast this year that the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, would be booted from office or killed. Bandara was charged with being a threat to national security and jailed for nine days.
‘’Even astrologers have horoscopes,’’ said Bandara, who has his own website and writes a column for an opposition newspaper. “Mine does not show a long life. Until 2012 there is a chance of someone in the government killing me.’’
Arresting and intimidating political dissidents, from journalists to aid workers, is nothing new in Sri Lanka. That was especially true in May when a final assault on the separatist Tamil Tigers ended one of the world’s longest-running civil wars
But the “battle of Bandara and his horror-scope’’, as local media have termed it, also shows the President’s increasing vulnerability. Presidential and parliamentary elections could be held in April, and the opposition parties recently formed an alliance to oppose Rajapaksa.
Moreover, the man who led the army to victory, General Sarath Fonseka, resigned last week amid speculation that he would stand for president. Analysts and ordinary Sri Lankans say General Fonseka is the only credible challenger to Rajapaksa, whose popularity for the past year has rested on the army’s success in the war.