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Rajpaksa Calls Presidential Polls in Sri Lanka
Nov 24, 2014

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for an early election to seek a third term in office amid growing criticism of his wide-ranging powers. The move, two years before his current term expires, is seen as an attempt by Rajapaksa to prevent an expected loss of public support if an election were held according to schedule. Rajapaksa had earlier promised to abolish the presidency because of widespread criticism that the office has too much power and lacks accountability. The proclamation was sent to the Election Commission, which will decide on a date. Polls are likely in the first week of January.

Rajapaksa continues to enjoy much of the popularity he gained by ending a 25-year civil war in 2009, but recent provincial elections showed signs of a slide in support amid rising living costs, corruption allegations and a deterioration in law and order.

Rajapaksa was first elected in 2005 and overwhelmingly won another six-year term in 2010. He used his party's parliamentary dominance after that victory to change the constitution and scrap a two-term limit for presidents. However, some legal experts argue that he cannot contest another election because he was elected for his second term under the old rule. The Supreme Court (appointed by Rajapaksa under powers he received through the same 2010 constitutional change) ruled earlier this month that he could seek a third term.


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