SLMC to reap numbers game advantage
[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 October 2000, 13:09 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress that won nine seats (five on PA list) to emerge Thursday as the key player in the numbers game to form a coalition government in Sri Lanka said it will not join the PA unconditionally. A party spokesman in the Ampara district told TamilNet that the PA should honour the conditions on which the SLMC supported the government in the elections to the Parliament. Meanwhile, Mr. A.L.M Yaseen, the SLMC's Ampara district secretary said his party would iterate the position of its late leader regarding PA strong man A.H.M Fowzie.
Mr.Yaseen who was also formerly co-ordinating secretary to the SLMC leader, Mr. M.H.M Ashraff, called on Mr.Fowzie on behalf of the Muslims of the Ampara district to keep to his word and leave politics for good. Mr.Fowzie, the powerful Muslim politician of the PA locked horns with the SLMC leader during the run up to the polls over the latter's real political influence among the Muslims.
Mr.Fowzie threw the gauntlet following a public war of words and internal tussles, declaring that he would leave politics if the SLMC could get more than five seats in the general elections.
Despite the acrimony over Mr.Fowzie, the SLMC chose to contest the elections in Ampara, its 'home electorate', and in Trincomalee under the PA's banner, drawing insinuations from opponents that it was doing so because the party was not sure of winning on its own strength even in its turf.
In all the other electoral districts of the island the SLMC fielded its front, the NUA.
Now nine members of the SLMC and its front organisation, the National Unity Alliance (NUA), have been elected to Parliament.
(Ampara -4 on PA list, Batticaloa- 1 NUA, Trincomalee -1 on PA list, Vanni-1 NUA, Kandy - 1 NUA and national list seat for NUA -1.)
The SLMC's 'co-leader' Rauff Hakeem was declared elected in a recount of votes in the Kandy electoral district Thursday. Mr.Wimal Dissanayaka, a Sinhalese member of the SLMC's National Unity Alliance was elected as the fourth MP for Ampara as he had scored more personal preference votes than the chief PA candidate for that district.
Mr.Rauff Hakeem's relations with the PA soured days before the polls when the government failed to grant him the powerful cabinet portfolio held by Mr.Ashraff before his death in a helicopter crash. Hakeem went on record that the SLMC might consider a relationship with the UNP as a consequence of the manner in which the PA leadership had acted on the issue.
The PA will have to tread carefully now on the SLMC's path because a memorandum of understanding signed by both parties before the polls stipulates, among other things, that the members of the SLMC who are elected on the PA list will not be answerable to the PA whip in Parliament.
A senior member of the SLMC in Kalmunai told TamilNet Thursday that his party will ask the government to honour the two main conditions on which it supported the government to fight the elections. He said that the government should establish the Maritime District comprising the three Muslim majority electorates of Kalmunai, Pottuvil and Sammanthurai in Ampara by a gazette notification before the eleventh Parliament is convened and elects its speaker.
The SLMC's second condition is that the President and the PA should give a written undertaking that the work begun on the Oluvil harbour on the southeastern coast would be completed as proposed.
The party will also call for a resolution in Parliament to appoint an independent commission of inquiry into the helicopter crash in which its leader was killed last month.
The main platform of the SLMC is a Muslim dominated autonomous region on the southeastern coast of the island. The two conditions, if fulfilled, is seen by the party as paving the way for this Muslim region.