SLMC suspends three MPs over opposition to Hakeem
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 May 2004, 18:55 GMT]
The rank and file of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) is in disarray following the decision of its politburo Wednesday to suspend three of its parliamentatarians and a member of the party for opposing the leadership of Mr.Rauff Hakeem, sources said.
The differences in opinion among members of the party over the question of joining the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) came to a climax with the cross-over of Mr. Hussain Baila, the SLMC parliamentarian, to the government side Tuesday morning when the parliament met to elect a new Deputy Speaker, political sources said.
Mr. Hussain Baila is a National List Parliamentarian of the main opposition United National Front (UNF) in which the SLMC is a constituent. The SLMC nominated Mr. Baila through the UNF's list, sources said.
Meanwhile, the suspended parliamentarians, Messrs. Risard Badiudin, Najeeb Abdul Majeed and Hussain Baila announced in a press briefing that they would be functioning in the parliament as a separate group, party sources
said. They alleged that there was no internal democracy in the SLMC and demanded that Mr.Hakeem should step down from leadership to safeguard the party, sources said.
The dissident MPs further said a committee comprising Muslim theologians should be appointed to go into the allegations against Mr.Hakeem, political sources said.
The Sri Lankan state-controlled electronic and print media have alleged, just two days before the parliament was to convene on Tuesday, that Mr. Hakeem was involved in an extra-marital affair. According to a BBC report, the SLMC leader has vigorously denied the charges, saying the allegations were malicious fabrications, 'scandalous' and 'cheap' politics by the ruling UPFA to bring pressure on him to support the ruling party to form a majority in parliament.
The BBC report also said that private media in Sri Lanka have carried reports supporting Mr. Hakeem's contention that the allegations were fabrications.
In the meantime, SLMC General Secretary Mr.M.T.Hassan Ali in a statement said that a disciplinary committee has been appointed to inquire into the conduct of three parliamentarians and a leading member of the party,
Mr.Mashehi Innamulah, and to recommend necessary disciplinary action against them.
SLMC sources said these dissident parliamentarians would be expelled from the party and new persons would be appointed
Political sources said Wednesday that the three suspended SLMC parliamentarians would be joining or supporting the UPFA in the parliament in the future.
In another development, one of the National List parliamentarians of the SLMC, Mr.W.Pushpakumara, Wednesday in parliament made his maiden and final
speech before tendering his resignation from the post. He said he was resigning his national list MP post to strengthen the party.
Mr. Hakeem commended Mr. Pushpakumara for his timely
resignation and said he would be rewarded later by the party, sources said.