Sri Lanka Group Challenge Rajapaksa’s Bid to Seek Third Term
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s bar association and a leading think-tank today asked the Supreme Court to allow them to make a submission before it on President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking a ruling on his record third term bid.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has asked the Supreme Court to give two weeks for a submission from them.
“We have asked for two weeks and an opportunity for an oral hearing,” Ajith Pathirana, a BASL spokesman, said.
“The incumbent president of the republic has over two years left of his term of office. There is no urgency in this matter and certainly no urgency such as would require refusal of an extension of time of up to two weeks,” Bar Association President Upul Jayasuriya wrote to the Supreme Court.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a leading think-tank group, also filed a motion in the Supreme Court requesting that an oral hearing be granted, a lawyer for the CPA group said.
The CPA held that there was no urgency for the Supreme Court to have a hearing that is shrouded in secrecy and one which, deprives citizens of their right to be heard on a significant national question that will define the future of Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa has on Wednesday sought apex court’s opinion on whether or not he could contest an election two years before the end of his second term.
Also, whether there was any impediment to be elected for a third term in office. Even though the country’s constitution has already been changed to allow it, there is debate on whether the change applies to Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka’s constitution was amended in 2010 to scrap a two-term limit for the President.
The opposition has already termed Rajapaksa’s attempt for a third term as illegal.
Commenting on the issue the main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe described Rajapaksa’s action to seek court opinion as a joke.
He said such an opinion would be non binding as it would be a mere opinion and not a ruling. “If the President goes ahead to contest it can be challenged in court”, Wickremesinghe said.
Rajapaksa was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2010 after successfully ending the island nation’s two and a half decade long civil war with LTTE.
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