SLMC sticks with UPFA, major storm in party


The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has decided to contest the upcoming provincial council elections with the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), sparking off a rift within the party.

A high command meeting of the party at its headquarters Darussalam saw a stormy session with General Secretary Hassan Ali and legal advisor Nizam Kariyappar walking out.

Former provincial councillor and SLMC central committee member Abdul Majeed said yesterday that the meeting started with displeasure as the party had failed to gain assurances from the government on most of its demands.

He said among these were steps to prevent land acquisition, protection of religious sites and recruitment for jobs in the public service. The argument was that without reaching a proper agreement on these and other issues the party

could not go ahead with its electoral alliance with the UPFA.However, Deputy Minister Basheer Cegu Dawood defending the SLMC decision said the electoral alliance with the UPFA was intended to protect the interests of the Muslims.
He acknowledged there were differences of opinion on these issues but did not give details.

UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said yesterday the ruling alliance had agreed to accommodate the SLMC on a series of conditions. He said the SLMC would be offered three places each on the nomination lists of the Ampara and Batticaloa districts, four in the Trincomalee district and one in the Anuradhapura district.

Mr. Premajayantha said the UPFA also agreed it would not resort to disciplinary action against any SLMC member without the party’s consent.
Meanwhile, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) also was hit by a rift over the nominations offered to smaller Tamil parties.
TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said yesterday the four other parties contesting with the TNA wanted more nominations, but the TNA could not do so.

These parties have decided to field the additional candidates as an independent group, a spokesman said.

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