The UPFA constituent, All Ceylon Muslim Congress (ACMC) said an attempt by the UNP-SLMC combine to pit M.L.A.M. Hisbullah against the government and the newly elected Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, the leader of the breakaway LTTE faction had been thwarted.
ACMC leader Abdul Rishad Bathiudeen (Vanni District) had blocked an attempt to call a press conference on Sunday (18) to officially announce Hisbullah s decision to quit the UPFA, political sources said.
The ACMC is represented in Parliament by Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Bathiudeen, Disaster Relief Services Minister M.S.S. Ameer Ali, Co-operatives Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed and Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Ahamed Bhaila.
Bathiudeen who had facilitated Hisbullah s alliance with President Mahinda Rajapaksa s government had asserted that criticism of the government would only make an already bad situation worse, the sources said. The head of the Ulema Group, the leader of the UNP Democratic Group in the government Minister Karu Jayasuriya and Chandrakanthan had endorsed Bathiudeen s efforts to resolve the crisis, the sources said. Jayasuriya has urged Hisbullah not to allow interested parties to fish in troubled waters as it would be detrimental to their interests and that of the government.
Basil Rajapaksa, MP, who played a critical role in forming the SLFP-led alliance had helped thwart the opposition conspiracy, the sources said.
The Colombo based Ulema Group had told Hisbullah a fight with the government would be at the expense of the Muslim community. The religious leader, while promising to explain the situation to the Mosque Federation, has told to Hisbullah not to be at loggerheads with the ruling coalition.
The sources said the TMVP leader had also phoned Hisbullah to call an immediate end to the crisis.
Chandrakanhan has assured Hisbullah that they could work together for the betterment of their communities. The former combatant turned politician has said failure to resolve the crisis immediately would only confuse the people. The sources said Chandrakanthan, had, in fact, acted as a trouble-shooter for the government. `His intervention on behalf of the government is timely and welcome,` a source close to the negotiations said.
The sources said the opposition had swung into action when the President appointed Chandrakanthan as the Chief Minister despite Hisbullah demanding the hot seat on the basis that the number of Muslims elected to the Council on the UPFA ticket was higher than the Tamils.
The President has told his confidantes that the TMVP s continued support is essential for the total destruction of the Vanni Tigers.
Well informed sources said the UNP-SLMC combine had urged Husbullah to seek legal redress as Chandrakanthan had the support of only 16 councillors in the 37-member EPC. They had held that as the Constitution envisaged that the Chief Minister should command an absolute majority in the Council, Friday s appointment had violated the Constitution But legal experts had pointed out that it would be a blunder on their part to take the remaining councillors (15 UNP-SLMC, 1 JVP, Democratic Tamil National Alliance 1 and double dissident Hisbulla and two loyalists) as one group, the sources said.
Well informed sources said the opposition was making a fresh bid to cause trouble. `We are confident Hisbullah will reject their attempt,` a source involved in Sunday s negotiations which facilitated a meeting between the President and Hisbullah said. As soon as Hisbullah received the TMVP leader s assurance and friendly advice from Karu Jayasuriya, the President had invited Hisbullah for talks at Temple Trees.
The ACMC leader has left for India after settling the issue. The sources said that had the ACMC leader who was elected on the UNP ticket at the last parliamentary election and switched his allegiance to the government failed to resolve the crisis it would have been a black mark on him. `The President has confidence in him. He has already received the support of key ruling party politicians,` the source said.