Sri Lankan Muslim ministers quit portfolios; governors resigned

Sri Lankan Muslim ministers quit portfolios; governors resigned

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Muslim ministers have quit their government portfolios and two governors quit their positions following demands by a Buddhist monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero who demanded for their resignations.

There is a total of three ministers and five junior ministers from the Muslim community in the government.  Their resignations however have not led to instability in the government since they remain backbenchers.

Rathana Thero, a fellow parliamentarian from the ruling United National Party led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe embarked on a hunger strike with five demands including the resignations as he claimed that the Muslim ministers and governors played a role in a series of bombings on Easter Sunday.

The bombings claimed the lives of 257 victims including tourists in two hotels and churches.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem who is also City Planning, Water Supply Higher Education Minister confirmed his move on Twitter.

“Resigned from my cabinet ministerial portfolio along with my Muslim fellow parliamentarians with the paramount interest in safeguarding the international reputation of our motherland Sri Lanka and the protection and wellbeing of all people of our country.”

He also urged the government restore law and order; and protect civilians in view of the ongoing unrest.

Rathana Thero only ended his hunger strike at 3pm on Monday after the Muslim leaders resigned.

The hunger strike gathered momentum and shops remained closed.

Earlier on, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa mooted a motion of no confidence against Industry and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development and Vocational Training and Skills Development Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

Bathiudeen is also the All Ceylon Makkal Congress leader.  There are accusations that he co-owned the factory where suicide bombers involved in the Easter bombings operated from.

Eastern Province Governor A.L.A.M. Hizbullah and Western Province Governor Azath Salley too have quit. This was confirmed by the office of Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.

“President Maithripala Sirisena accepted the resignation letters of Governors Azath Salley and M.L.A.M. Hizbullah just a while ago,” announced the Presidential Media Division on Twitter.

The resignation of the governors opened the floodgate that led to Muslim cabinet ministers quitting their positions.

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bathiudeenMuslim ministersSri Lanka bomb blasts