Sri Lankan Muslim party joins opposition

Colombo, Dec 28 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Sunday joined the opposition to oppose President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to win a third term.

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem announced his resignation as justice minister in the Rajapaksa government, Xinhua reported. “I have sent my resignation to the president,” he told the media.
The SLMC decision to back opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena followed several rounds of discussions.
Relations between the government and the Muslim community, which makes up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20.4 million population, have been tense due to hardline Buddhist groups.
Earlier this year, Hakeem accused these groups of inciting communal violence in the southern towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala that left two people dead.
The SLMC is the second Muslim party to join the opposition after Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and his All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) crossed over last week.
The presidential elections are slated for Jan 8.
–Indo-Asian News Service