SLMC to receive Eastern Province CM post soon

Hakeem says rehearsal for truly national govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The SLMC is expected to secure the post of Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council soon in accordance with its agreement with the SLFP-led UPFA.

An SLMC nominee will succeed UPFA appointed Chief Minister M. N. Abdul Majeed, a member of the SLFP.

Rauff_HakeemSLMC leader and Minister Rauff Hakeem told The Island that political parties represented at the EPC were in the process of finalising arrangements. The minister said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the UNP, too, were supportive of the move. The TNA consists of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

Responding to a query, the SLMC leader asserted that the arrangement at the EPC could be a rehearsal for forming a truly national government in the future.

The UPFA agreed to concede the post of Chief Minister to the SLMC in return for the latter’s support at the EPC.

Political sources told The Island that the UPFA had no option but to reach an understanding with the SLMC to prevent a possible SLMC-TNA tie-up at the EPC consequent to second Provincial Council poll in the east held on Sept.8, 2012.

The 37-member EPC comprises UPFA (14 slots including two bonus seats), TNA (11), SLMC (7), UNP (4) and National Freedom Front (1).

Although a Provincial Council is elected for five years, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa dissolved the EPC on June 27, 2012 to call early poll.

The first EPC poll was held in May 2008 after the liberated the Eastern Province. However, the TNA refrained from contesting at the behest of the LTTE. One-time LTTE commander Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan functioned as the Chief Minister of the first EPC. In spite of being forced out of the Eastern Province, the LTTE remained strong in the Vanni at the time of the first EPC poll.

Political sources recollected the TNA offering the post of the CM to the SLMC in 2012, if it was prepared to form an administration jointly with the TNA and the UNP. However, the SLMC accepted the SLFP offer to share the CM’s post two and half years each.