Key Sri Lankan Muslim party quits government

Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party today quit the government and decided to support the opposition in the 8 January presidential polls in a move seen as a major setback to President Mahinda Rajapakse’s bid to seek a record third term.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem said they left the government due to differences over a 2010 law that lifted the two-term limit on the presidency and gave 68-year-old Rajapakse wide powers over the police, the judiciary and the civil service. “We have decided to support the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena,” Hakeem the SLMC leader told reporters.

“We have now realised the mistake in supporting the amendment which abolished the 17th amendment,” he said.

Hakeem said he has resigned as the Minister of Justice in the Rajapaksa government, becoming the second Muslim minister to quit Rajapakse government after Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. He said his party would now hold talks with the main opposition United National Party.

The SLMC now joins a number of parties supporting Sirisena, the former health minister of Rajapaksa.

Sirisena defected to the opposition camp along with several other senior leaders of the ruling UPFA coalition last month.

Rajapaksa, who was elected in 2005 and in 2010, called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent attempt to seek a fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further, after dropping over 21 per cent in September’s local elections.

In the last presidential election held in 2010, Rajapaksa won 58 per cent of the vote without the SLMC’s support. The party had then backed the opposition challenger Sarath Fonseka.

The President relies on the support from the majority Sinhala community.

Muslims, the second largest minority in the island after Hindu Tamils, account for about 10 per cent of the electorate and could play a decisive role in the elections. The main Buddhist party has already quit the government.

TS

Advertisements

About lankapage

We are an online publication (Educational Purpose Blog) made up largely of what we call “disintermediated” news – that is news without a spin put on it by a journalist, published as it’s delivered to Lankapage. All copyrights belong to their respective owners. Images and text owned by other copyright holders are used here under the guidelines of the Fair Use provisions of United States Copyright Law. Images and text are used here only for the education purpose and are not intended to generate income for the blog, its employees, or its students. That makes us unique. All content is delivered to you as the writer or producer intended — leaving only you to make judgments about what you read or watch, not us.

Posted on December 29, 2014, in Sri Lanka. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Key Sri Lankan Muslim party quits government.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: