World

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa calls polls, seeking 3rd term amid opposition criticism

  • Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa hold posters and celebrate following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. 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. Placard center reads "Our President," and posters are felicitations on his birthday which was marked on Nov. 18.  (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa hold posters and celebrate following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. 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. Placard center reads "Our President," and posters are felicitations on his birthday which was marked on Nov. 18. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • A supporter of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa bursts firecrackers following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. 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. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    A supporter of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa bursts firecrackers following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. 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. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankans stand next to a giant billboard with a portrait of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a locality with majority Rajapaksa supporters, following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. Billboard reads "Divided, there is no country. There is no country without the President." (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankans stand next to a giant billboard with a portrait of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a locality with majority Rajapaksa supporters, following a call for presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Rajapaksa has called an early election to seek a third term in office two years before his current term expires. Billboard reads "Divided, there is no country. There is no country without the President." (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

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.