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Sri Lanka cabinet backs constitution change for president

International Desk |
Update: 2010-08-29 22:08:34
Sri Lanka cabinet backs constitution change for president

COLOMBO:  Sri Lanka`s cabinet on Monday backed changing the constitution to allow President Mahinda Rajapakse to run for office for a third term, opening the way for a vote in parliament.

Rajapakse, who oversaw the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels last year after decades of civil war, has a firm grip on power and has been criticised for crushing dissent and opposition media.

The cabinet approved a proposal to remove the two-term limit for presidents, which would mean Rajapakse could stand again when elections are scheduled in November 2016.

"The cabinet backed a move to amend the constitution," an official at the president`s office said, declining to be named.

Rajapakse came to power in 2005 and won a second presidential term in January.

He has enough support in parliament to secure the two-thirds majority required to pass constitutional changes, but any amendment must also to be approved by the Supreme Court.

Several of Rajapakse`s family hold key positions within the government, and the island`s key aid donors, including the United States and Japan, have pushed him to enact political reform and to share power with minority ethnic Tamils.

BDST: 1540 HRS, August 30, 2010

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