Lanka SC rules Prez's term is five years

15 Jan 2018

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has informed President Maithripala Sirisena that the duration of his term of office is five years after he sought the apex court's opinion on whether he can continue in office until 2021. Sirisena, 66, had requested the country's apex court to determine whether his term is six years as stated by the 1978 Constitution when he was sworn in on January 9, 2015 or five years as mentioned by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which was enacted on May 15, 2015. President made the unusual request as different views were expressed in the legal, civil and political circles about the duration of the term of Presidency after the enactment of the 19th Amendment. The court ruled that Sirisena's term in office is limited to five years from 2015 January, the Presidential media unit said today. His term would now end in January 2020 and the next presidential election would have to be announced in November of 2019.
Sirisena's request to the apex court came as a surprise for many as he made arrangements in 2015 through the 19th Amendment to prune the presidential term from six to five years. He had also backed the civil society's demand to abolish the presidency when he was declared the Opposition's common candidate in 2015. Sirisena had defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 election.
Instead of abolishing the presidency, Sirisena introduced the 19A which reduced the presidential term for five years while taking away his absolute control over the dissolution of Parliament. Sirisena's request to the Supreme Court caused quite a stir when Rajapaksa declared that he could run for president again if the court ruled in favour of Sirisena. The 19A has also barred two term presidents, including Rajapaksa, from running for a third time. (PTI)