A Pow­er­ful Pres­i­dent

Southasia - - REGION SRI LANKA -

Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa won a land­slide vic­tory in the Jan­uary 2010 elec ons which he had called a er declar­ing vic­tory in the 25 years long civil war against the Tamil sep­ara sts. Gen­eral Sarath Fon­seka, who led the fi­nal cam­paign to crush the Tamil Tigers, stood against Ra­japaksa in the 2010 elec ons and chal­lenged the re­sults. Soon a er, Gen. Fon­seka was ar­rested and charged with a va­ri­ety of of­fences rang­ing from har­bor­ing de­sert­ers to trea­son. He was found guilty on sev­eral counts but was re­leased from prison in May 2012. The terms of his re­lease pre­vented him from run­ning for pub­lic of­fice for seven years. Pres­i­dent Ra­japaksa fur­ther con­sol­i­dated his grip on power when his rul­ing coali on won an over­whelm­ing majority in the par­lia­men­tary elec ons in April 2010. Later that year, a cons tu onal amend­ment was made to al­low Ra­japaksa to stand for un­lim­ited terms in of­fice. The op­posi on ac­cuses him of mov­ing the coun­try to­wards dic­ta­tor­ship. In 2011, Ra­japaksa’s gov­ern­ment scrapped the emer­gency laws that had been in place for much of the past four decades. How­ever, it sparked an in­terna onal out­cry by in­tro­duc­ing new laws that re­stored many of the con­tro­ver­sial pow­ers granted to au­thori es un­der the state of emer­gency. Grow­ing ten­sion be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the ju­di­ciary cul­mi­nated in the im­peach­ment and dis­missal of Chief Jus ce Shi­rani Ban­daranayake in Jan­uary 2013, in what cri cs de­scribed as a poli cally mo vated move in­tended to cur­tail the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary.

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