Sri Lanka’s main Muslim minority party has announced that it will contest the eastern provincial council polls independent of the ruling coalition, just days after it had decided to go with the government.
“We have failed to get the necessary agreements that we sought with the government, so we have decided to contest on our own”, a Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) source said on condition of anonymity.
SLMC sources said the party was not receiving any assurances from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on the quota of seats allocated to the SLMC .
Pressure was building on the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem who is the Minister of Justice in the Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government to contest independently of the ruling coalition.
Sabaragamuva province along with north central province and the eastern province councils have been already dissolved mid-term to face polls in September.
The Muslims constitute around 42 per cent in the multi ethnic province and a section in the SLMC dissatisfied with the government’s treatment of the Muslim minority pushed for going alone in the election scheduled to happen early September.
However, the ruling coalition’s dominant party Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) sources said the government would still win the council without the SLMC support.
In the last election held in 2008, Hakeem, the SLMC leader, was the chief ministerial candidate from the main opposition United National Party (UNP) led alliance.
The UPFA won control of the council with a Tamil elected as the chief minister.