UPFA Colombo Municipal Councilor Azath Salley stated that Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Minister Rauf Hakeem had betrayed the Muslim community with the decision not to join a coalition of Muslim parties for the upcoming elections.
As the Muslim community constitutes 42% of the Eastern Province, which is the largest numerically community, Salley stated that the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka together with the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ullama made efforts to bring the Muslim parties together to contest the elections under one umbrella.
In a published statement, Salley revealed that two rounds of discussions were held together with SLMC Chairman Basheer Sheikh Dawood, Rishard Badurdeen, Unais Farooq, Y.L.S Hameed, N.M.Shaheid, M.S.S Ameer Ali all of whom represented the Ceylon Muslim Congress and A.L.M. Athaulla represent the National congress.
Furthermore, he claims that an agreement was made at the second discussion round while a delegation was appointed to inform Rauf Hakeem of the decision.
However, when the delegation met with Minister Hakeem the next day, he claimed that he had not been briefed by the SLMC representative at the meeting about any decision but nonetheless offered a encouraging response from the Minister.
Salley goes on to explain that Hakeem however disappointed the members of the coalition when the SLMC announced that they would be contesting under the UPFA ticket.
In his statement, Salley questions Hakeem as to whether the SLMC still hold on to the position it had at the previous Provincial Council Election which was that Muslims did not need a Muslim Chief Minister while requesting Hakeem to also state whether he continues to endorse the same referral to the Muslims as a mere group, as against the community as found in the Cease Fire Agreement entered in between the UNP and the LTTE in 2002 to which he was a party.
BETRAYAL TO THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY A statement made by Azath Salley
With only two days away for the nominations for the 3 provincial council elections, Muslim civil society organization and religious groups are concerned about the stand that the three main Muslim political parties are going to take on this election. The Eastern provincial council election has become crucial for the Tamil parties as well as for the government, in view of the fact that both sides are trying to impress upon the International community through this election that the Eastern Province is with either party.
However, the fact that this election is more crucial for the same purpose for the Muslim community who constitutes 42 percent as the numerically largest community in the east is not lost on Muslim civil society groups. The international dimension to this election is manifested by the pre-mature dissolution of this council timing for the Geneva meeting. Under these circumstances, the Muslim council of Sri Lanka together with the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ullama, made concerted efforts to bring the Muslim parties together, to contest under one umbrella. There were two rounds of discussions with the Muslim parties. In the latter one, which was attended by Chairman Basheer Sheikhu Dawood representing the SLMC, Hon. Rishard Badurdeen, Hon. Unais Farooq, Mr. Y.L.S Hameed Gen Sec and deputy leader Mr. N.M.Shaheid, Mr. M.S.S Ameer Ali, former minister all of whom representing the all the Ceylon Muslim Congress and Hon. A.L.M. Athaulla represent the National congress. It was unanimously agreed that all three parties should contest the forth coming provincial elections as a separate group. Since Hon. Rauf Hakeem was not present at the meeting, it was also decided that the representatives of the Muslim council meet with Hon. Rauf Hakeem on the following day, in order to appraise him of the agreement reached at the above meeting. Subsequently, the representatives of the Muslim council, met him in order to convey the agreement where they were informed by Hon. Hakeem to the surprise of the delegation, that he had not been briefed of any such meeting where the said agreement was reached by his chairman Hon. Basheer Sheikhu Dawood who had in fact undertaken to place his leader in the know of the development that took place at the said meeting. Be that as it may the delegation was highly pleased with the positive and encouraging response from the leader of SLMC, Hon. Hakeem, to the message they handed down to him. Little-knowing that what Mr. Hakeem had in store for the delegation was going to be a total disappointment in the form of a High Command decision that night dispelling all hope of Muslim Parties coming together to form an alliance, that is, to go with the government irrespective of whether the government would offer the Chief Minister position to the Muslim community or not.
The following served as valid grounds for the agreement referred, to above reached at the meeting of the Muslim Council with the Muslim Parties.
1. The dimension of the Muslims in the East, who formed 42 percent of the total population in the East, is scarcely focused on by the international community, in their pursuit of causing a durable solution to the North East Tamils question to be found.
2. Muslim parties, when contesting in a separate alliance, are likely to secure 16 to 18 seats in the eastern provincial council which is almost half the total number of councilor thereof and which will undoubtedly enlighten the international community of the Muslim dimension of the East.
3. At the last Provincial Council Election, notwithstanding the pledge made by the government to the effect that the community that would return the highest number of seats within the UPFA would be offered the Chief Minister position the government went back on its word though Muslims had secured the highest number of seats, but when the Muslim Parties contesting in a separate alliance, return 16 to 18 seats, they could be assured of a Muslim Chief Minister in spite of having to form a coalition with any other party to secure the shortfall to form the Administration of the council.
It is history that the SLMC during the last Provincial Council Election, made it an unequivocal that Muslims did not need a Muslim Chief Minister. Will he now state whether he still clings on to the same position which is why he has offered to contest with the UPFA unconditionally. Will he also state whether he continues to endorse the same referral to the Muslims as a mere group, as against the community as found in the Cease Fire Agreement entered in between the UNP and the LTTE in 2002 to which he was a party. Will he further state whether it is to maintain the same position as articulated in the CFA as referred to above, that he is trying to stymie the enlightenment of the international community on the Muslim dimension in the East.
Therefore the Muslim community will have to ascertain this situation and ensure that justice is done to the Muslim community