Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- General Sarath Fonseka, hailed as a hero after leading a military campaign that defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, was released from detention Thursday and driven under heavy armed escort to be sworn in to Sri Lanka's Parliament.
There, Fonseka urged his now archrival President Mahinda Rajapaksa to "uphold democracy, civil liberties and media freedom."
His remarks came when party leaders were given an opportunity to make brief speeches after the Speaker was elected. It was the first time Sri Lanka's seventh parliament met after the polls on April 8.
Fonseka, who is the leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), is under detention and faces two different courts martial over an alleged conspiracy and fraudulent activity in military procurements.
Though President Mahinda Rajapaksa was to have ceremonially opened the sessions and make a policy statement, it was called off at the eleventh hour.
The foreign ministry, which had invited Colombo-based heads of diplomatic missions for the event, did not offer a reason for the president's absence.