The battle for the chief ministerial post of the Eastern Provincial Council has become intense with two Muslim parties aligned with the ruling coalition at the last election and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which contested alone, asking for the post, party officials said.
The All Ceylon People’s Congress (ACPC) of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen which won three seats from Batticaloa and the National Congress of Minister A.L.M. Athaullah have jointly demanded former Minister Amir Ali be appointed the chief minister. Mr. Ali, an ACPC member, polled the highest number of votes under the UPFA in Batticaloa.
The two parties won three seats each from the Batticaloa and Digamadulla districts.
ACPC National Organizer Deputy Minister M.L.A.M. Hizbullah told the Daily Mirror that a delegation of his party met Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Saturday evening to request for the chief ministerial post.
“The National Congress of Minister Athaullah has come to an understanding with us in this regard. There is no final decision on the appointment. We made the request. It is still under consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, the SLMC which enjoys the crucial seven seats required for the formation of the Council has also demanded the post.
Party Leader Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had reportedly met President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently to discuss the matter.
Though the UPFA polled the highest number of votes, it could not muster the required number of 19 seats to form the EPC. The party won only 14 seats, falling short of five seats required for it. The SLMC’s support is crucial because it holds seven seats in hand as a result.
But first, let us look at the way in which Ministers may be appointed. The Governor shall appoint as Chief Minister the member of the Provincial Council who in the Governor's opinion commands a support of a majority in the Provincial Council. Further, the Governor shall on the advice of the Chief Minister, appoint from among the members of the Provincial Council, no more than four other Ministers. These are, no doubt, unexceptionable provisions enacted in the best traditions of a constitutional democracy. (KB)