Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called early elections, seeking a third term in office two years before his current term expires.

Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake says the president signed a proclamation on Thursday declaring "his intention to be elected for another term."

The proclamation was sent to the Election Commission, which is to decide on a date.

Rajapaksa had earlier promised to abolish the presidency amid widespread criticism that the office has too much power and lacks accountability.

He was first elected in 2005 and overwhelmingly won another six-year term in 2010, riding on his popularity for defeating Tamil Tiger rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.

He used his party's parliamentary victory in 2010 to scrap a two-term limit in office.