Hizbullah crosses over to UPFA

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 April 2008, 16:20 GMT]
M.L.A.M Hizbullah, an executive committee member of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), on Tuesday, crossed over to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) strengthening Rajapaksa's alliance in the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections. Meanwhile, informed sources in Colombo said that TMVP, the paramilitary-cum-political party, which had invited all its nominees in Eastern Provincial elections to hotels in Colombo was disappointed as Rajapaksa's promise on Chief Minister post and allocation of number of seats in Trincomalee district as it had demanded, faded away with Hizbullah's cross over.

The latest move, which is interpreted as victory for Mahinda Rajapaksa in his political maneuver before the Eastern PC elections, comes as the SLMC reportedly agreed to contest the Eastern Provincial Council elections with the main opposition United National Party (UNP) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the key operatives of the TMVP paramilitary group, which had demanded Chief Minister post for Pillayan in the Eastern Province were disappointed as Rajpaksa curtailed the number of TMVP nominees for Trincomalee district from 5 to 2. TMVP operatives were pleading Rajapaksa to accept their original demands, informed sources in Colombo said.

Mr. Hizbullah was an earlier Deputy Minister in Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance cabinet since 1994. He resigned the post immediately when Ms. Kumaratunga sacked Mr.Hakeem in June 2001 from her cabinet. Later, Hizbullah declared himself as the president of the SLMC stating that he had been elected to the said post by majority of politburo members. Since then, a power struggle has been on and off between Hizbullah, a native of Kaththaankudi in the Eastern Province, and Rauff Hakeem, who hails from Kandy in the Central Province.

Later, Hizbullah became Deputy Leader of the breakaway National Unity Alliance (NUA) led by Ferial Ashraff. During the UPFA government of Chandrika Kumaratunga, Hizbullah was appointed Chairman of the Civil Aviation Board.

He lost in the 2004 April general election in the Batticaloa electoral district.

In June 2005, he resigned from the post of the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Board and joined the SLMC, strengthening Hakeem's position among the Muslims.

Rauff Hakeem joined the UPFA government in early 2007, but resigned his minister post and pulled out of the alliance in December 2007.



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