Sri Lanka amends constitution to remove two-term limit for Presidency

Sri Lanka’s parliament has amended its constitution to lift the two-term limit for the Presidency, a move that would effectively allow the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa to govern the country indefinitely if successfully elected.

The vote was past with 161 votes, 11 seats more than the two-thirds majority required to pass the amendment, after the many of the main opposition party boycotted the debate entirely, and only 17 members from the Marxist-Nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and a Tamil minority party voted against it.

The vote, dubbed ‘the 18th Amendment’, also empowers President Rajapaksa to appoint all top judges and commissioners for independent institutions governing elections and human rights, without legal veto.

The BBC reported that critics of the amendments had described it as “an onslaught to democracy”, while a group of lawyers protesting against the move claimed it was “undemocratic” and demanded a public referendum on the matter.

Supporters of the amendment have claimed the changes will help strengthen the country damaged by 30 years of war with the LTTE.