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Minister: Sri Lankan leader OK’d for 3rd campaign

November 11, 2014

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s highest court has found no impediment to President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking an unprecedented third term in office, a Cabinet minister announced Tuesday.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament that the 10 Supreme Court judges gave the verdict unanimously.

Rajapaksa has said that he will announce a presidential election two years before the end of his second term.

The country’s constitution was changed in 2010 to scrap a two-term limit, but some legal experts have argued that Rajapaksa can’t contest another election because he was elected for his second term under the old rule.

A ruling in Rajapaksa’s favor was widely expected because the court’s judges are his appointees — a power he retained through the same 2010 constitutional change. Lawmakers from his party also previously impeached the sitting chief justice and replaced her with Rajapaksa’s close aide.

The court gave lawyers one day to present their arguments in writing, disregarding a plea from the Bar Association to give them two weeks to present objections and to hear the arguments orally.

Rajapaksa was elected twice on his popularity after leading the successful military campaign to end a 25-year civil war. He has since assumed the power to appoint judges, police and election officials.

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