All Muslim ministers including cabinet, state and deputy ministers have decided to resign from their portfolios, Minister Rauff Hakeem said today.
Addressing a news briefing at Temple Trees in Colombo, Minister Hakeem said they would support the government remaining as backbench MPs to ensure the government’s survival.
“We will assist the government to survive but their survival will depend on their conduct on conducting investigations thoroughly and properly and do justice to everyone equally,” he said. Accordingly, cabinet ministers Kabir Hashim, Rauff Hakeem, M.H.A. Haleem and Rishad Bathiudeen, State Ministers Faizal Cassim, H. M. M. Harees, Ameer Ali Shihabdeen and Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana and Deputy Minister Abdullah Mahrooff have decided to resign.
Minister Hakeem said they decided to resign from the portfolios to facilitate investigations to be conducted in a free and fair manner, following a discussion with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“We had a lengthy discussion with the Prime Minister this evening and he let us take a collective decision independently,” he said.
He said investigations should be expedited and completed within one month so that they could be vindicated from the allegations.
“Investigations should be conducted by the CID against the allegations against Muslim politicians. We do not believe that we could expect reasonable solution to this issue from a Parliament Select Committee in this regard. Only the CID can do that,” he said.
He said that they were ready to face any punishment, if any of them were found guilty and added that innocent people should not be punished.
“But as a matter fact, what is happening today is innocent people are at the receiving end. They have become victims. It is true that some of the perpetrators of the April 21 incident were among our community. But we cooperated fully from the very first day to assist all law enforcement agencies and tri forces to establish sanity in the country and find the truth,” he said and added that “We have been suffering heavier harassment. There are several who are languishing in remand prisons on minor issues. We expect the government to complete the inquiry thoroughly and fully,” he said.
UNP General Secretary and Minister Kabir Hashim said allegations had been levelled against some politicians that they were assisting terrorism and influencing the police investigations and added that they resigned from the portfolios to assist the investigations.
“Some people wanted to make the country a blood bath using this issue,’ he said.
All the Muslim ministers representing the government including Minister Rishad Bathiudeen attended the news conference. (Ajith Siriwardana)