Presidential poll year: Not beyond 2005, says UNP
Amid controversy over the end of President Kumaratunga’s presidential term, the UNP’s constitutional expert. K. N. Choksy, said it could not go beyond November 2005.

President Kumaratunga who was elected as President in December 1994 for her first six-year term called an early election at the end of five years in November, 1999 which she won and took oaths as President for the second term in December the same year. She also took another oath in 2000 at what is now being criticised as a secret ceremony.

Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters on Thursday that the two terms a person was constitutionally entitled to hold office of President would be calculated for 12 years starting from December 1994, and not from the date she took oaths as President for the second time.

However, Mr. Choksy said the term of office of the elected President is clearly fixed by Article 30, which states that the President shall hold office for a term of six years. "This is a basic feature of the Constitution. All other provisions, including the Third Amendment, relating to the election of the President have to be interpreted subject to Article 30," he said.

The Constitution enables the person holding this office to call a Presidential election at any time after the end of four years in office to seek a mandate from the people to hold office for a further term.

Mr. Choksy said this provision cannot be utilised in such a manner as to add on the period of time in advance by calling an election before the expiry of the first term so as to extend the period of office of the second term beyond six years.

The UNP is to issue an official statement today on the dispute. Mr. Choksy said that in terms of the Constitution, the election of the President “shall be conducted by the Elections Commissioner who shall fix the date for the nomination of candidates for such an election and the date on which the poll shall be taken”.

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