EPC: SLMC endorses Mahinda-Hakeem pact


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) yesterday declared that its decision to support the SLFP-led UPFA to form the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) was a collective decision taken by the party in the best interests of the Muslim community.

Addressing the media at SLMC headquarters, ‘Darussalam’, SLMC General Secretary Hassen Ali and MP M. S. M. Aslam strongly countered allegations that SLMC leader Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had taken a unilateral decision against the wishes of some members of the party. They denied reports of serious discontent among members due to the SLMC siding with the UPFA, while reiterating their commitment to the ruling coalition.

The SLMC leader didn’t attend the media briefing.

SLMC General Secretary Ali said that the SLMC had secured two thirds of the Muslim vote in the Eastern province and therefore it had every right to reach an understanding with the UPFA on behalf of the Muslim community.

The National List MP said that the SLMC, as a constituent party of the UPFA, consisting of many parties, decided to throw its weight behind the ruling coalition at the EPC after careful consideration of all relevant issues. MP Ali said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised to address their grievances in line with an understanding reached between the two parties.

Aslam explained the circumstances under which the party finalized its latest agreement having contested the second election for the EPC on its own. Commenting on a meeting the SLMC had at Galle Face Hotel shortly after the release of results, MP Aslam said that as a constituent party of the UPFA the SLMC decided to discuss formation of new EPC with the government. "Although the TNA, too, invited us to explore the possibility of forming government, our priority was an arrangement with the UPFA. That was due to SLMC being a constituent party of the UPFA," Aslam said.

The SLMC revealed that talks on formation of EPC involved several ministers, including UPFA General Secretary Minister Susil Premjayanth, SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena, and ministers, Basil Rajapaksa, Dallas Alahapperuma, Nimal Siripala de Silva and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

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