It could soon be a three-term presidency in Sri Lanka | world | Hindustan Times
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It could soon be a three-term presidency in Sri Lanka

world Updated: Apr 28, 2010 18:35 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government could soon amend the Constitution to introduce a three-term executive Presidency in Sri Lanka.

Currently, the Lankan President is only permitted two terms in office.

"The Constitutional reforms the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government expects to introduce on priority basis in the next few weeks will include the change of term of office a President is permitted to hold under the present Constitution," the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted an unnamed minister as having said.

But the government is short of the 2/3rd majority needed in Parliament to pass Constitutional amendments. The minister said the government was in talks with MPs from other parties to wipe out that shortage.

"Several members of the United National Party, Sri Lankan Muslim Congress and the Tamil National Alliance had already pledged their support to President Rajapaksa. We do not intend to disclose the names of these MPs. But they will vote with the government when the necessity arrives," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The minister told the newspaper that the government wants to introduce these electoral and constitutional reforms soon and complete the process before November when President Rajapaksa takes oaths for his second term.

"With assistance of all constituent parties of the UPFA and the cooperation of the opposition members the government is determined to pass those urgent constitutional amendments before November," the newspaper reported.

The move, if and when, it happens could be seen as controversial. It was expected that the new government under Rajapaksa would introduce Parliamentary reforms including curtailing the powers of the executive Presidency.

But after winning the April 8 general election, there were indications that Rajapaksa was tightening his hold on power with his elder brother appointed as Parliament Speaker and a younger brother being given a top economic portfolio. Another brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, is the powerful defence secretary.