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China’s parliament passes historic constitutional amendment

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BEIJING — China’s parliament has passed a historic constitutional amendment on Sunday abolishing presidential term limits that will enable President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

The announcement of the vote, witnessed by reporters in the Great Hall of the People, passed with just two ‘no’ votes and three abstentions among almost 3,000 delegates.

China’s ruling Communist Party proposed the amendment last month and there was never any doubt it would pass as parliament is packed with loyal party members who would not have opposed the proposal.

The National People’s Congress’ about 3,000 hand-picked delegates endorsed the constitutional amendment, voting 2,958 in favor with two opposed, three abstaining and one vote invalidated,, according to South China Morning Post.

But the extremely high approval rate, nevertheless, gives the controversial move a veneer of universal support within the establishment; despite criticism at home and abroad.

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The two-term limit on the presidency was introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 after Mao’s death in 1976. And, this revision is the biggest change to the constitution in 36 years.

President Xi Jinping began his second five-year term as party chief in October and at the end of the week will be formally appointed by parliament.

Xi, 64, has consolidated power since taking office as general secretary of the Communist Party in 2012.

He would have had to give up the presidency after the end of his second term in 2023, but he now have a lifetime to push his vision of making China a global powerhouse with a ‘world-class’ military.

With Agency Inputs

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Voting begins in Maldieves presidential election

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MALE — Voting began for a tense presidential election regarded as a test for democracy in the popular Indian Ocean honeymoon destination on Sunday.

Hundreds of voters had queued up overnight on islands across the country to cast their ballots before polling stations opened at 8am (3:00 GMT).

Huge crowds flocked to closely guarded polling station to vote in the country’s third multiparty presidential elections, widely seen as a referendum on the island nation’s young democracy.

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Both President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, voted in the capital, Male, shortly after polls opened.

Sunday’s vote pits President Abdulla Yameen, who has presided over a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, against opposition figure and long-time member of parliament, Ibrahim.

More than a quarter of a million people, out of a population of nearly 350,000, are eligible to vote in the island nation, which has been in turmoil since its first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced out of office in 2012.

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