Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided not to fill the Cabinet vacancies arising from the resignation of three Muslim ministers, a reliable government source said yesterday.
City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem, Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development Minister Kabir Hashim and Industry, Commerce, Resettlement, Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Vocational Training and Resettlement Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Postal and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Haleem submitted their resignations on Monday.
The resignations came in the wake of a protest campaign and a 'fast unto death' by MP Athuraliye Rathana Thera, demanding the resignation of Minister Bathiudeen and Western and Eastern Provinces Governors Azath Salley and M.L.A.M. Hizbullah over allegations that they supported the National Thowheed Jama'at (NTJ).
“Currently there are no Muslim ministers, deputy minister or state ministers after they resigned in solidarity with Minister Bathiudeen. They will remain as back-benchers while supporting the government,” the source said.
The others who resigned are State Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Mohamed Faizal, State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Mohamed Hareez, State Minister of Social Empowerment Ali Zahir Moulana and Agriculture and State Minister of Irrigation and Rural Economic Affairs Amir Ali Zeyed Mohamed.
“The Prime Minister is expected to take policy decisions of the vacated ministries while the day to day affairs will be overseen by the respective ministry secretaries in consultation with the Prime Minister's office,” he said.
The source said any member of Parliament, social organizations, NGOs, Bikkhus or any other person is can lodge complaints to the Parliamentary Select Committee, TID, CID, FCID or Bribery Commission against Mr. Bathiudeen and if they fail to prove their allegations within a month Mr. Bathiudeen will be reappointed to his portfolio.
The three ministers who resigned told media that they had resigned from their posts so as to provide space for ongoing investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks.
They said certain groups were still attempting to destabilize the country even after the capture of members of the extremist Muslim group and would do their best to safeguard the country.(Sandun A Jayasekera)