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Sri Lankan Court Allows President to Seek 3rd Term

FILE - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures during his swearing-in-ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 19, 2010.

Sri Lanka's highest court has cleared President Mahinda Rajapakse to run for re-election, rejecting opposition claims he is barred under the constitution to hold office for a third term.

A Sri Lankan cabinet minister, Nimal Siripala da Silva, told parliament on Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that there is no legal impediment for Rajapakse to run for an unprecedented third six-year term.

Da Silva said the president also has the authority to call for an election after he completes four years of his current term.

Rajapakse is expected to call for an early election to be held in January.

Sri Lanka's constitution was changed in 2010 to eliminate the two-term limit. But some legal experts argue the amended constitution only applies to new presidents and cannot be used retroactively.