China clears way for Xi Jinping to rule for life

Kalerkantho Online   

11 March, 2018 14:44 PM

China clears way for Xi Jinping to rule for life

Xi applauded after the amendment was passed: Reuters

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China has approved the removal of term limits for its leader, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

The constitutional changes were passed by China's annual sitting of the National People's Congress on Sunday.

The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

China has imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s, according to BBC report.

Mr Xi, however, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October's Communist Party Congress.

Instead, he consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party's constitution - elevating his status to the level of its founder, Mao Zedong.

In late February, the party proposed removing term limits from China's constitution. Mr Xi was due to step down in 2023.

On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China - similar to the parliament in other nations. But it was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.

Rare dissent
The issue is not, however, without controversy.

The National People's Congress has never voted against the Communist Party. But some reports suggest a number of the 2,980 delegates may abstain - which would be seen as a clear protest vote.

Censors in China have been blocking discussion around the topic, including images of Winnie the Pooh. Social media users have taken to using the cartoon character to represent Mr Xi.