There is a very strong possibility of all Muslim Parliamentarians from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) resigning their ministerial positions in the Government informed Muslim sources said.
A key decision to this effect is likely to be arrived at on Monday June 3rd 2019 when most if not all Muslim MP’s in the present Parliament are expected to meet at the residence of veteran Muslim leader AHM Fowzie.
It is learnt that the meeting has been convened in view of the prevailing political climate where immense pressure is being exerted on ACMC Leader and cabinet minister Rishad Bathiudeen to resign from the Government.
The situation has been further exacerbated by an orchestrated campaign by Sinhala Buddhist hawkish elements demanding the dismissal of Eastern Province Governor MLAM Hizbullah and Western Province Governor Azath Salley along with cabinet minister Bathiudeen.
The campaign is now being spearheaded by Bodu Bala Sena General – Secretary VENERABLE Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero who was pardoned and released from prison by President Maithripala Sirisena. Gnanasara Thero was serving a prison term for a contempt of court offence. Among those who called for the release of the BBS Bhikku were Governors Salley and Hizbullah but the BBS Bhikku seems to have trained his guns on both after being released.
Currently National list MP Ven Athureliya Ratana Thero is on a prolonged protest fast in Kandy demanding the ouster of Bathiudeen, Hizbullah and Salley.BBS Gen -secy Gnanasara Thero has extended support to this. Gnanasara Thero has issued an ultimatum where he has threatened an Island wide “Carnival” if Bathiudeen, Hizbullah and Salley are not removed from their posts.
President Sirisena who appointed the two Governors as well as released Gnanasara Thero appears to have washed his hands off the matter while the genie he released from the bottle Gnanasara Thero runs amok. The President has made no move to restrain Gnanasara Thero.
After separate discussions with their respective supporters both Eastern Governor Hizbullah and Western Governor Salley submitted their resignation letters to President Sirisena. Thereafter the Presidential secretariat announced that the resignation letters were accepted. This was made known to the fasting Ven Athureliya Ratana Thero who immediately ended his fast. Thereafter he was admitted to hospital as his physical condition had deteriorated.
Meanwhile there is dissension within the Government over the Bathiudeen issue with some ministers like Champika Ranawaka and a a few MP’s calling for Bathiudeen’s resignation. An overwhelming number of Govt MP’s however do not want Bathiudeen to resign now.
It is against this backdrop that the Muslim parliamentarians are scheduled to meet today.
It is expected that the Muslim MP’s will reach a decision by consensus at today’s (June 3) conclave. A number of options are likely to be discussed and debated it is learnt. It is not known at this juncture as to what decision is likely to be reached finally
However Informed sources said that if a decision is arrived at where ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen is required to resign his cabinet portfolio then he will quit his post and move to the opposition. He will then be followed by all MP’s from ACMC with State minister Ameer Ali and Deputy Minister Abdullah Mahroof also quitting their posts.
If such a decision is reached then the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem too will resign his cabinet minister post in solidarity and in support. This course of action will be adopted by all other SLMC Parliamentarians including those holding state ministerial office like MP’s Ali Zaheer Moulana, MHM Harees and Faizal Cassim.
The SLMC and ACMC parliamentarians will quit being in the Govt and will sit as a backbenchers group on the Govt side. They will continue to vote in support of the UNF Govt headed by Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe .They will also remain within the folds of the UNF.
According to Muslim sources what is of paramount importance to the Muslim parties and MP’s is the security of the Muslim people who are very vulnerable and face the threat of organized communal violence as a consequence of the orchestrated campaign targeting Rishad Bathiudeen and the Governors. Recent experience has demonstrated that the armed forces or Police will not prevent Sinhala Buddhist mobs from attacking Muslims and their homes, Businesses and Mosques. There are also many instances of the Police and armed forces colluding with the mobs and aiding and abetting in the Anti-Muslim attacks while preventing Muslims from defending their Mosques and homes.
In such a situation where organized anti-Muslim violence looms large on the political horizon, the Muslim party MP’s in Govt feel helpless in safeguarding and protecting the Muslim people who elected them. Moreover they are likely to be accused of clinging on to the perks of “empty” ministerial portfolios without looking after the well-being of the people at a time of urgent need and danger.
It is learnt that although Rishad Bathiudeen is of the personal opinion and inclination to confront the no confidence motion against him in Parliament as he feels he is not guilty of any charges or allegations against him, the ACMC leader feels he must if necessary quit his post to prevent communal violence targeting the innocent Muslim community at large.
As stated earlier there has been no firm decision taken so far but if a decision is taken where Rishad Bathiudeen will step down as cabinet minister then there is a very strong possibility that Rauff Hakeem and all SLMC and ACMC MP’s will also follow suit and quit the Govt.
If such a decision is indeed taken then that decision would also very likely have a bearing on Muslim minsters and MP’s from the UNP in the Govt too. It is very likely therefore that even the Muslim ministers elected from the UNP too would resign their posts.
It is learnt that the Muslim parties will meet with Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and convey their decision to him. Thereafter they will announce their decision at a media conference.