In August 2010, some serious political changes took place impacting on the country’s legal frameworks with far reaching socio-political implications. Chief among them was the spade work done to replace the Seventeenth Amendment with an Eighteenth that also proposed sweeping changes to the electoral system.
The incumbency requirement to amend the Constitution however was curtailed by the lack of a few votes. However, with eight Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) parliamentarians pledging allegiance to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the goal of mustering 150 votes in Parliament appeared almost possible.
On August 27, 2010 the said SLMC members expressed solidarity with the incumbent administration based on a party decision to support the proposed constitutional reforms. According to reports, the reforms are to be limited to the executive presidency and the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The reforms that received Cabinet sanction on August 30, 2010 proposed the removal of the constitutional restriction placed on any President from contesting for a third term. It is documented political history that President J. R. Jayawardene wished to continue for a third term but the constitutional provisions prevented him from seeking an extension, that resulted in the then ruling party, the United National Party (UNP) to successfully field the then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa as the presidential candidate in 1989.
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