Sri Lanka’s constitution changes draw US concern

WASHINGTON, September 11, 2010 (AFP) - The United States on Saturday expressed concern over changes to the Sri Lankan constitution, which strengthened the presidency, saying they were undermining the principles of democracy.
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"The United States is concerned that this constitutional amendment weakens checks and balances and thus undermines the principles of constitutional democracy," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a written statement.
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Sri Lanka's national parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of the 18th amendment to the country's constitution, scrapping a two-term limit on the presidency and widening President Mahinda Rajapakse's control of the state.

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The president's office said Rajapakse was "pleased" with the parliamentary endorsement, which is another success for the 64-year-old populist leader after a string of recent electoral victories.

As well as allowing him to stand in the 2016 polls, the amendment also hands Rajapakse greater control over previously quasi-independent institutions such as the judiciary, police, election commission and central bank.

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Crowley said the United States was calling on the government of Sri Lanka to promote the principles of good governance, democra

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