Government

Sri Lanka is a democratic republic with an executive presidency. Under the 1978 constitution the president is head of state and government. The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term. The Eighteenth Amendment, enacted in September 2010, removed the limit on the number of terms a president may serve, previously set at two.

The president is responsible to parliament for the exercise of duties in accordance with the constitution and laws. The incumbent may be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote in parliament and the agreement of the Supreme Court.

The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to parliament. The president’s deputy is the prime minister who leads the ruling party in parliament. The prime minister’s role is relatively ceremonial.

The Sri Lankan Parliament is a unicameral, 225-member legislature. Members are elected by universal suffrage based on proportional representation for a six-year term. Vacant seats during the life of a parliament go to nominees of the party holding the seat. Amendments to the constitution may be made, subject to a two-thirds majority in parliament. However, to amend certain entrenched articles of the constitution, approval in a national referendum is also required.

The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the district, magistrates’ and primary courts. Appeals from the High Court and lower courts come before the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal.

The High Court has jurisdiction in criminal matters, the district court in civil matters.

Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president, others by the Judicial Service Commission.