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Last updated: 30 August, 2010 - Published 11:25 GMT
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Rajapaksa 'on way to third term'
President Mahinda Rajapaksa (file photo)
The amendment paves the way for President Rajapaksa to seek a third term
The Cabinet of ministers in Sri Lanka has approved the proposals to amend the constitution paving the way for a sitting president to contest more than two terms.

Secretary General of the largest political party in the ruling coalition Minister Maithreepala Sirisena told journalists in Colombo that a sitting president could contest as many times as he or she wishes, according the proposed amendment.

The government will submit the proposals to the parliament next week, he said.

It is also proposed that the president must attend the parliament every three months and answer the questions from the House.

The 17 amendment that paved the way for independent commissions reducing the executive powers of the president is also to be amended, according to the government proposals.

Tamil minority

"It is necessary to make the independent commission more efficient," the minister said adding that changes proposed are based on democratic principals that safeguard people's sovereignty.

Former President JR Jayawardene
President Jayawardene introduced the executive presidency in 1978

However, there has been no mention about the constitutional changes to find solutions to long-term grievances of country's Tamil minority.

The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2006 to find constitutional changes have already been handed over to the president.

However, minister Sirisena does not mention whether the APRC proposals will be incorporated into the proposed amendments.

The government last week secured the two thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution as the opposition Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), with six MPs, decided to support the government.

Meanwhile, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) said it still maintains that the powerful executive presidency should be abolished.

The UNP introduced the position after sweeping into power with a five sixth majority in 1978. It has been in power for 17 consecutive years, until 1994.

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