Sri Lankan parliament extends presidential term (Lead)

September 8th, 2010 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Sep 8 (DPA) Sri Lanka’s parliament approved constitutional amendments increasing presidential powers and extending term limits in a session boycotted by the main opposition Wednesday.
The amendments allow President Mahinda Rajapaksa to run for a third term in 2016. They also gave the executive additional powers regarding key government appointments.

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) officially stayed away, but 17 of its members defected and voted to support the bill.

UNP leaders said the amendments were undemocratic and accused the government of coercing their members into supporting the measures.

“The government is acting undemocratically by getting our members to vote in favour of the amendments. Some of them have been offered various positions in the government or threatened with initiating legal action against them where they could be taken into custody,” party general secretary Tissa Attanayaka said.

Pro-government demonstrators rallied outside parliament Wednesday in support of the president, while the opposition protested nearby.

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