COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa called early elections on Thursday, seeking a third term in office two years before his current term expires.
Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said the president signed a proclamation declaring “his intention to be elected for another term.” The proclamation was sent to the Election Commission, which is to decide on a date.
Rajapaksa had earlier promised to abolish the presidency amid widespread criticism that the office has too much power and lacks accountability.
He was first elected in 2005 and overwhelmingly won another six-year term in 2010, riding on his popularity for defeating Tamil Tiger rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.
He used his party’s parliamentary dominance in 2010 to change the constitution to scrap a two-term limit for presidents, but some legal experts argued that he couldn’t contest another election because he was elected for his second term under the old rule.