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Sri Lanka: Protest Staged Against Proposed Constitutional Amendments

(July 8, 2010) On July 6, 2010, members of the largest opposition party in Sri Lanka's legislature, the United National Party (UNP), held a demonstration against the constitutional amendments proposed by the current administration. The protest was staged on the steps leading to the entrance to the Parliament. The main criticism of the government plan was that it would eliminate the two-term limit on the presidency. (UNP MPs Protest Against Sri Lanka's Proposed Constitutional Amendments, COLOMBO PAGE (July 6, 2010),; Sri Lanka Opposition Protests Constitutional Changes, SIFY NEWS (July 6, 2010),

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe declared, “President Mahinda Rajapaksa is trying to remain in power forever.” The President began his second term in January 2010. (SIFY NEWS, supra.)

The proposed change in the term limit is only one aspect of the reforms, and it would come into effect in the last of three stages if the amendment is enacted. The other parts include changes to the distribution of power between the central government and the provincial councils and reactivation of the Police Commission and the Constitutional Commission, which are currently not functioning. In addition, there are projected changes to the Constitution described as pro-development. (Joseph Thavaraja, Sri Lanka Constitutional Changes Mooted in Three Phases: President's Maximum Number of Terms to Be Handled Last, ASIAN TRIBUNE (June 3, 2010),
; see also Constance A. Johnson, Sri Lanka: Constitutional Reform to Be Proposed, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 13, 2010),

Passage of the amendment requires 150 parliamentary votes; at present the governing party has 144 supporters. (SIFY NEWS, supra.)