The two former presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa are not eligible to run for a third term in the highest office under the present Constitution, a senior minister said.
Minister of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said the provisions under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution prevent both former presidents from running for a third term at the next presidential election.
Minister Rajapakshe speaking to media said only the current President has the powers to decide if a referendum should be held to seek the public opinion on this matter. Any reference to the Supreme Court would get rejected, he added.
The Minister also said that the candidates at a presidential election should submit a sworn affidavit declaring their suitability to contest
Minister Rajapakshe made these comments in response to the media reports that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s hopes to seek Supreme Court opinion on his eligibility to run for a third term.
According to media reports the former president told reporters yesterday that there is an opinion that he could contest again his party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), will be inquiring with the Supreme Court whether under the 19th Constitutional Amendment, a person who had previously held the post of President twice, could contest the presidential election for a third term.
The SLPP is of the opinion that the amendment was only adopted after Rajapaksa lost the presidency to incumbent Maithripala Sirisena in 2015 so that there cannot be a retroactive effect.
However, a top constitutional expert, parliamentarian President’s Counsel Jayampathy Wickramaratne says that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has no retroactive effect.
Neither former presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga nor Mahinda Rajapaksa could contest for a third term, according to the law brought in by the 19th Amendment, he told Sunday Observer.