Colombo Telegraph

Fireworks In Cabinet: Mahinda Asks Hakeem To Decide On His Future With The Govt

It is reported that President Mahinda Rajapaksa lashed out at Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem at the recent Cabinet meeting demanding that he and his party decides whether they would wish to remain within the government. The President’s wrath has been incurred by what is widely speculated to be a document that was given by some SLMC members to UN Human Rights Council chief Navi Pillay during her visit to Sri Lanka in August 2013. The document cited hundreds of attacks on Muslim and Christian places of worship. Navi Pillay’s recent report at the UNHRC had cited the SLMC document as evidence of the Rajapaksa’s regimes anti minority activities.

Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem

It is well known that the anti Muslim and anti Christian campaigns launched by groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balakaya have been getting the approval and patronage of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the ruling regime. The leading Sinhala nationalists within the government,  Ministers Patali Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa had raised questions about the SLMC document at the Cabinet meeting. President Rajapaksa, who align with these elements within his Cabinet rather than with how own more moderate party, the Sri Lankan Freedom Party, have lambasted the SLMC and its leader Hakeem.

A visibly angry President Rajapaksa had asked Minister Hakeem about the document given to Pillay. Minister Hakeem had told the President that in as much as the President did not have control over some of the UPFA members he too had no control over some of SLMC members. He had told the President that it was not him but the SLMC Secretary who had given the document to Ms. Pillay. It was at this point that President Rajapaksa had asked Minister Hakeem to decide whether he wished to continue as a minister in the UPFA Government.

Interestingly the Rajapaksa regime has never denied its involvement with the Buddhist groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena or the Ravana Balakaya which have openly carried out numerous attacks against minorities.

It is also interesting that at the UNHRC last year all the Muslim countries either voted with Sri Lanka or abstained. The United States has cited the State sponsored attacks against Muslims to lobby these countries to vote with them this year. It would be interesting to see how countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE etc. view these latest developments where the minorities in this country are targeted by State sponsored groups.

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