Hizbullah remains with MAHINDA

FILES AND MUSLIMSThe All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) has split over the decision by party leader Rishad Bathiudeen to support common opposition candidate Maitripala Sirisena, party officials said today.

Mr. Bathiudeen and recently sworn in MP Ameer Ali had joined the common opposition while the party’s national organiser M.L.A. Hizbullah said he would support ruling party candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Hizbullah, who is also the Deputy Economic Development Minister, said he had the backing of party’s Eastern provincial councillor Sibly Farook and Western provincial councillor Mohamed Faize. “All six members of Kattaknkudi Urban Council including the mayor and the five members of Ottamawadi Pradeshiya Sabha will support the President,” he said.

Responding to the allegation that the safety of the Muslim community has been compromised under the current government, he said similar violence was unleashed against Muslims even during the term of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. “This is not something that has happened under this regime. Three mosques were burnt in Mavanella at that time. There are allegations against Bodu Bala Sena. But the Jathika Hela Urumya, a similar group, is with the opposition. It is even worse,” he said.

When asked what propelled him to take such a position, he said the abolition of the executive presidency, as pledged by the common candidate, would be disadvantageous to the minorities like the Muslims.“Only the executive presidency can look after the interests of the minorities. We are also opposed to the introduction of electoral reforms proposed by the opposition. Under the present system, 18 Muslim MPs have been selected. Yet, there will be a maximum of four MPs in case proposed electoral reforms are implemented,” he said.


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