Sri Lanka to boost presidential powers

Sri Lanka`s cabinet Monday passed constitutional amendments that boost the powers of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, officials said.

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2010, 19:07 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s cabinet Monday passed constitutional amendments that boost the powers of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, officials said.

The amendments enable a president to run for a third consecutive term, allowing two-term president Rajapaksa to contest the next elections.

A second amendment moves the power to make key government appointments from a 10-member council to the president`s office.

Rajapaksa`s ruling United People`s Freedom Alliance, which holds 144 seats in the 225-seat parliament, needs a total of 150 votes to pass the amendments.

Two opposition members have already defected to the government and eight lawmakers of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress party have pledged support.

The amendments will be presented to parliament for a two-day debate Sep 8.

Rajapaksa won the April polls against former army commander General Sarath Fonseka, who has since been found guilty by a military court of being involved in political activities while serving as head of the army.

Fonseka, who was in charge of the military offensive against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam, also faces charges of awarding army procurement tenders to his son-in-law.

Fonseka has been dishonourably discharged from the army and remains in military custody to face the second trial. He has also been indicted on similar offences in the civil courts.

The ex-army chief fell out with Rajapaksa soon after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers last year and officially entered politics, but the government accused him of having political negotiations with the opposition while serving in the army.

IANS