Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Kandy District Parliamentarian Rauf Hakeem and six others from the National Unity Alliance (NUA) and SLMC left the ruling coalition and joined the ranks of the opposition yesterday.
The crossover came soon after President Kumaratunga relieved Minister Rauf Hakeem from his Cabinet portfolios.
Deputy Ministers A.L.M. Athaulla, M. B. M. Abdul Cader, S. G. Noorden Mashoor and MPs Rizwie Sinnalebbe, M. Thowfeeque and Basheer Segu Dawood also crossed over to the Opposition with the former minister.
“The entire SLMC Parliamentary Group has decided to relinquish all positions they held in the Government,” Hakeem said.
In a brief speech prior to the crossover the SLMC leader said that they would sit in the Opposition and support the Government on an issue-by-issue basis.
The SLMC joined the People’s Alliance (PA) to form a government after the latter won the General Elections in 1994. The SLMC and the National Unity Alliance (NUA) secured eleven seats at the General Elections last October.
Rauf Hakeem took over leadership of the SLMC after M H M Ashraff, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister of Ports and Rehabilitation was killed in September 2000, along with 14 others at Aranayake, when the Air Force helicopter they were travelling in crashed into a hill after taking off from Colombo.
Ferial Ashraff, widow of the late Minister who leads the National Unity Alliance was elected to Parliament and appointed Minister of Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the East and Rural Housing Development.
Four SLMC and NUA members, Ferial Ashraff, U. L. M. Mohideen, U. M. Hanifa and Wimalaweera Dissanayake did not cross over.
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