Maithripala Sirisena seeks Supreme Court’s opinion for six-year term

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Maithripala Sirisena seeks Supreme Court’s opinion for six-year term

 In an unusual move, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has sought the Supreme Court’s opinion if he could be the president for six years, a request which contradicts the amendment he introduced to reduce the presidential term to five years.

Sirisena, 66, spearheaded the 19th amendment (19A) to the Constitution in 2015 to prune the presidential term from six to five years.

The president’s term should end in 2020, but has sought the Supreme Court’s opinion if he could continue until 2021.

The Registrar of the Supreme Court yesterday informed the members of legal fraternity that the consideration by the apex Court has been listed for January 11, officials said.

It said the President had requested an opinion which read, “whether in terms of provisions of the Constitution, I as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed such office in terms of Article 32 (1) of the Constitution on January 9, 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of President for a period of 6 years from January 9, 2015”.

The request stands in direct contrast to Sirisena’s action of backing the civil society’s demand to abolish the presidency when he offered to be the Opposition’s common candidate in 2015.

Instead of abolishing it, Sirisena introduced the 19A amendment which reduced the presidential term to five years while taking away the absolute control over the dissolution of parliament.

Sirisena’s announcement has come amidst the ongoing differences with his coalition partner, the United National Party (UNP) which is headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sirisena’s main backer in the 2015 election against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa with a clear reform agenda in 2015.

The President of late has criticised the UNP publicly and some some party members have also been critical of him.

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