Sri Lanka supreme court takes up constitutional changes

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 00:11

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s Supreme Court on Tuesday
began assessing a draft bill that would amend the island`s
constitution to allow President Mahinda Rajapakse to run for
office for a third term.

Registrar of the Supreme Court said the five-judge
bench would give their decision to the president and speaker
of parliament within 24 hours, with a vote in parliament then
expected to take place next week.

Yesterday, the cabinet approved a proposal to scrap
the two-term limit for presidents, which would enable
Rajapakse to strengthen his grip on power by standing again in
November 2016.

The main opposition United National Party called for a
referendum and accused the government of "bulldozing"
constitutional amendments through parliament.

Six lawyers acting for opposition political parties
and civic rights groups filed objections during the
proceedings at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"The constitutional amendments do not reflect
peoples` wishes," opposition UNP General Secretary Tissa
Attanayake told reporters at a press conference.

Rajapakse came to power in 2005 and won a second
presidential term in January, propelled by the victory of
government forces over the Tamil Tiger rebels last May, which
ended 37 years of bloodshed.

Critics and human rights groups accuse him and his
family members, who hold key positions in government, of
ruling Sri Lanka with an iron fist, crushing dissent and the
opposition media.

The government information department said the
Supreme Court decision would be announced in parliament for a
debate on September 8, with a final vote expected the day
after.

Rajapakse has enough support in parliament to
secure the two-thirds majority required to pass constitutional
changes.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 00:11

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