Rajapakse wants to be president in next term without election
The Sri Lankan government is proposing constitutional changes to extend the presidency of Rajapakse for the next term without election. The ministers are gathering support for that amendment.
Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, a minister who supports this amendment says there is no other suitable candidate for president and the conducting election is more expensive. But such an amendment to extend the term requires approval by people at a referandum which costs almost same expense as an election.
The government proposes to introduce constitutional amendments aimed at extending the term of office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, without holding a presidential election, Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon told the Sunday Times yesterday.
As a prelude to the introduction of constitutional changes, an island wide campaign on gathering public support for the move had been initiated, the minister said. As a first step local government members including a section of opposition UNP members who met in Colombo on Friday, backed a resolution moved by Mr. Tennakoon who is the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government. Similar resolutions are to be moved at Provincial Council and Pradeshiya sabha level, before presenting the amendment to Parliament.
A two thirds majority is required to repeal or replace any provision of the Constitution under clause 82 (5) of the Constitution. However, any amendment to extend the term of office of the President or the duration of Parliament over six years should also be approved by the people at a referendum.
Mr. Tennakoon said the main reason for the move to scrap the next presidential election was to ‘save money’ which could be eventually used for development activities—but he made no reference to the cost of holding a referendum raising questions as to what the real intention was. The cost of conducting a referendum will be similar to that of a presidential election.
It would cost more than Rupees One billion “At the moment there is also no suitable candidate to contest the President and therefore a majority of the people believe that the President should continue for another term without elections”, the minister said.
The move has run into tough opposition from both, the UNP and the JVP which have described it as a dangerous threat to democracy. UNP frontliner John Amaratunga said such a move undemocratic move and the government needed a public mandate for any such move at a referendum.
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