Sri Lankan minister denies moves to extend Rajapakse’s term

June 22nd, 2009 - 4:02 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, June 22 (Xinhua) A senior Sri Lankan minister Sunday rejected reports that the government was considering moves to extend President Mahinda Rajapakse’s term for another six years without an election.
Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, the information and media minister, said in a statement that the wish of the president was to seek re-election following democratic norms.

The Sunday Times earlier reported that the government was considering constitutional amendments to extend the term of office of Rajapakse without holding a presidential election.

As a prelude to the introduction of constitutional changes, an island wide campaign on gathering public support for the move had been initiated, the newspaper said.

“The president can call a presidential election after Nov 19, 2009 or after he completes his first term in office in 2011,” Yapa said.

Rajapaksa won the presidency narrowly in 2005 and finishes his first term in 2011. He can stand for re-election for a second and final term.

Yapa said the president firmly believed and placed his faith in the system of democratic governance and norms.

While acknowledging that there was indeed a popular call by the people for Rajapakse to continue for a further period uncontested, Yapa said the wish of the president was to seek re-election following democratic norms.

“He is today a very popular president and the people will definitely respond positively in his favour at an election to express their gratitude to a leader who saved his nation and his people from the clutches of cruel terrorism to make headway towards development,” Yapa said.

Rajapakse is credited for leading a successful military offensive against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting the government since 1980s for a separate state for the minority Tamils, who were discriminated by the majority Sinhalese dominated governments.

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