Following is an extract of the interview Rauff Hakeem had with BBC Tamil and Sinhala Services at the Parliament.
Q: Sri Lanka Muslim Congress has seven members in the Parliament.What is your position on the current political situation?
We have called for an immediate convention of the Parliament. Upon our individual and collective requests, the Speaker had arranged today’s discussion. Meanwhile, we have pointed out to him that we have more majority than the requirement.
Q: What are the demands you have placed before the Speaker?
We have made a collective request that he should take immediate measures to convene the Parliament in order to control the unpleasant situation that has cropped up in the country at present and also to restore justice. Our prime allegation is that the President, who had our majority support, had committed a serious error in total contradiction to the Constitution.
We reiterate that it is a serious violation of democracy in the part of the President to suspend the Parliament without giving an opportunity to the Prime Minister to prove his majority in the House. The Speaker has not only the ethical responsibility but he is also bound by the law to convene the Parliament at his discretion. We seriously condemn the acts of those unscrupulous politicians who took all the trouble to bring down thousands and thousands of heads to the capital city to show their objection to the Government but deliberately forbidden the opportunity to the Prime Minister to prove his majority in Parliament. Only by convening Parliament can the increasing violation of democracy be controlled and justice be restored in the country.
Q: What are the assurances the Speaker had given you?
The Speaker made us understand that he had discussed this issue with the President and that the President had given his consent to convene the Parliament. However, the Gazette notification for the convention of the Parliament has not yet been published. We have warned the Speaker that we will not hesitate to enter his Chambers if he fails to convene the Parliament quickly.
The political situation in the country is worsening day by day. The Parliament is becoming a den for the unethical, unscrupulous politicians who have adopted a culture of setting prices to heads to grab power. As we are afraid that this mean culture will become a serious threat to democracy, we find no alternative but to demand an immediate convention of the Parliament to restore law and order before it is too late.
Q: What is the reason behind the frequent postponement of the Parliamentary sessions?
The simple fact is that they are unable to collect the required number of heads. Negotiations are going on to buy more heads. This the very reason for the dragging of dates. We must bring an end to this horrible culture of setting prices for heads. We have firmly insisted that the Speaker take steps to safeguard our political rights and self-respect and to restore democracy and justice in the country.
Q: There is a general speculation that the minority parties may jump over to the Government side in a situation like this. What is your comment on this?
It is a common practice in politics for the minority parties to place their demands before the main parties or to negotiate with them before or after an election. This is a common practice in a democratic country. But what had happened now is not any issue of that nature. Suspending the Parliament without any valid reason is a severe violation of democracy and totally against the Constitution. This is an illegal attempt to grab power in a crooked manner. The country was pushed into a very dangerous political situation. As a political party, we reserve the right to condemn such unjustified moves. We cannot accept any attempt taken in contradiction to the Constitution or in violation of democracy.
Q: Which side will get the support of Muslim Congress?
We have not made any change in our position. Only the Parliament has the exclusive right to select a lawful Prime Minister. Their idea behind the suspension of the Parliament is to keep the unlawful Prime Minister in power. Muslim Congress will make its decision only at the Parliamentary session and not before.
Q:Are you still supporting Ranil Wickramasinghe?
Yes. There is no change.
Q: There is a rumour that negotiations are going on to attract some of your Parliament members. What do you say about it?
I have strong confidence that none of our members will fall into the trap.
Every one of us believes that any solution will be possible only with the unity of the members and only through the party leadership and not otherwise.
Q: The President had accused Ranil Wickramasinghe with various allegations. Do you think, with such allegations against him, Ranil will be able to lead the country if he is reappointed?
The President, knowingly or unknowingly, had made a blunder and had created a critical situation within the party with his baseless allegations against Ranil. Instead, he could have made some sensible renovation in his party for its betterment. Even now, we are having discussions with some of the important members of the UNP. As the active partners of the national Government, we have the responsibility to do it.
Q: The President had commented that he won’t allow Ranil to last in his position even for one hour if he is made the Prime Minister once again. What is your comment on it?
In such a case, we will be pushed to a situation to appoint another President through the Parliament.
Q: What achievements had this Government made within the last three years? It is also said that the stability of the Government was questioned right from the beginning. What do you say about it?
We have achieved a lot in three years. The national Government was formed to restore the long-lost democracy, media freedom and justice. We have successfully carried out many worthy development projects within the last three years. We would say we have achieved better development than any other previous Government, but due to the lack of coordination from the media, our achievements had failed to come to light. Even now, we can observe some media neglecting their responsibility and following a totally partial attitude.
Q: What can you say about Mahinda Rajapakse reducing prices for essential commodities like petrol and diesel in an attempt to give relief to the people?
Nothing else. He wants to accept his failure now and plans to dissolve the Parliament and go for a hasty election. To do this, he is staging a dramatic act of showing that he is an important figure in the Government.
Q: Do you think it is wiser to go for an election and solve the prevailing problem?
If such a situation crops up, then there will be no other way for us. However, to solve the present problem, the President, the UNP Leader and the Bud party Leader must get together and have a smooth discussion. If it materialises, we, too, are ready to extend our cooperation.