Lankan astrologer arrested after predicting President's exit

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Colombo, June 27 (ANI): A popular Sri Lankan astrologer has been arrested after predicting that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would be ousted from office and replaced by his own Prime Minister by September.

Opposition supporters decried the arrest of Chandrasiri Bandara as evidence of a growing crackdown on political dissent that has accompanied the army's defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels last month.ccording to police, Bandara told an opposition meeting last week that the Prime Minister would take over as President on September 9, and the leader of the opposition would become Prime Minister.

According to The Telegraph, it was not clear what Bandara - who has a weekly television show and writes a political column for a pro-opposition newspaper - thought would happen to Rajapaksa after his removal.

Bandara was arrested on Wednesday night so that the source of his prediction could be investigated, according to Ranjith Gunasekera, a police spokesman.

Chathura Vidyarathna, deputy editor of Irudina, which publishes Bandara's column, said: "He has not returned so far."

The opposition United National Party condemned the arrest, saying that the Government was expanding a campaign to suppress the media.

Rajapaksa's popularity has soared, with some supporters hailing him as a modern-day king, since the army defeated the Tamil Tigers last month, bringing an end to a 26-year civil war.

Politicians in his ruling party have gone so far as to propose giving him a second six-year term without holding an election - or perhaps changing the constitution to make him President for life.

However, astrologers are extremely influential in Sri Lanka, where many people consult them before holding weddings and other special events, and politicians often use their predictions to boost their image.(ANI)

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