Sri Lanka changes constitution, lifts term limits

Sept 08, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s parliament has changed the constitution, lifting term limits for the president with 161 votes or 11 seats more than a two-thirds majority with several opposition lawmakers also crossing over. The constitution change which also nullifies an earlier change to improve rule of law with a more independent public service, has drawn criticism from opposition parties and civil liberties groups as undermining democracy and expanding autocratic rule.

However, the ruling coalition has said that the changes would strengthen its hands in rebuilding the country after a 30-year war.

The main opposition boycotted the debate and only 17 members from the Marxist-Nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and a Tamil minority party voted against. The minority Sri Lanka Muslim Congress also voted with the administration.

Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa won a second term earlier in the year, and his coalition followed up with a landslide parliamentary victory later.