Hakeem in row over provin­cial de­mar­ca­tions

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

Smaller po­lit­i­cal par­ties are keep­ing a close watch on how an of­fi­cial Com­mit­tee would de­mar­cate elec­toral bound­aries, now a pre-req­ui­site for fu­ture Provin­cial Coun­cil elec­tions.

That was per­haps the rea­son why the Sri Lanka Mus­lim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem came out with a pro­posal at last Tues­day’s weekly min­is­te­rial meet­ing. He wanted a three-mem­ber com­mit­tee to mon­i­tor the de­mar­ca­tion.

They were dis­cussing the ap­point­ment of a five-mem­ber De­lim­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tee in ac­cor­dance with the re­cently passed con­tro­ver­sial Provin­cial Coun­cils Elec­tions (Amend­ment) Act.

The names of five mem­bers were ap­proved and gazetted last Wed­nes­day. They are K. Thavalingam, Prof. S.H. His­bul­lah, Dr Amita Dias Ban­daranaike, P.M. Siri­war­dena and San­garan Vi­jaya­sun­thi­ran.

Min­is­ter Hakeem sought the ap­point­ment of a three-mem­ber Com­mit­tee com­pris­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive each from the Sin­hala, Tamil and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties to mon­i­tor the work of the De­lim­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tee. He even had the name of a Mus­lim rep­re­sen­ta­tive he wished to be in­cluded.

The move was to draw and an­gry re­sponse from his po­lit­i­cal ri­val Com­merce Min­is­ter Rishad Bathi­udeen. The lat­ter charged that his min­is­te­rial col­league was al­ways try­ing to ob­struct busi­ness with di­ver­sions like this. A heated ex­change en­sued. Join­ing in the ar­gu­ment and back­ing up the po­si­tion taken by Bathi­udeen was Provin­cial Coun­cils and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Faiszer Musthapha.

When the ar­gu­ments heated up, Musthapha urged Pres­i­dent Sirisena’s in­ter­ven­tion. The Pres­i­dent said that the mat­ter should be re­solved am­i­ca­bly through dis­cus­sion.

Mr. Hakeem said that Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe could then ap­point the three mem­ber Com­mit­tee. It drew in a com­ment from Min­is­ter Kabir Hashim. He de­clared that as Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the UNP, he would be able to nom­i­nate the UNP rep­re­sen­ta­tive to such a Com­mit­tee.

The mat­ter ended in­con­clu­sively.

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