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For the First Time Since Independence Sri Lanka Has a Govt Without Muslim Ministers: PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

Nine ministers from the Muslim community, in the President Maithripala Sirirsena's Cabinet, and two provincial governors resigned on Monday accusing the government of failing to ensure the safety of the people from community following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks

PTI

Updated:June 4, 2019, 9:49 PM IST
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For the First Time Since Independence Sri Lanka Has a Govt Without Muslim Ministers: PM Ranil Wickremesinghe
File photo of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. (Reuters)

Colombo: For the first time, Sri Lanka has a government which has no ministers from the Muslim community, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Tuesday.

Nine ministers from the Muslim community, in the President Maithripala Sirirsena's Cabinet, and two provincial governors resigned on Monday accusing the government of failing to ensure the safety of the people from community following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, in which around 260 people were killed.

A local Jihadi group, the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ), said to have links with the IS, carried out a series of bomb blast in three churches and as many luxury hotels of the Indian Ocean island nation on April 21.

"For the first time a government is functioning without Muslim ministers in it," Wickremesinghe said. It is the first time since the island nation's independence in 1948 that no Muslims are part of the government.

Amid mounting pressure by the majority Singhala Buddhist groups, Cabinet Minister Rishath Bathiyutheen and two provincial governors resigned from the Sirisena government.

Their resignations came four days after thousands of people, including majority Buddhist community monks, launched a protest in the pilgrim city of Kandy, demanding the expulsion of three Muslim leaders whom they alleged were linked to the NTJ - the banned outfit blamed for the attacks on three Colombo hotels and three churches.

The Sinhala Buddhist groups accused them of aiding and abetting the NTJ and demanded President Sirisena to sack them.

Bathiyutheen, who was holding the post of Industry and Commerce Minister in Sirisena government, was accused of supporting the ISIS linked NTJ.

Wickremesinghe said the raising of communal passions against Muslims was only giving the victory to ISIS.

"We must not strengthen the position of terrorists by doing so," he added.

There were a total of 19 Muslims Members of Parliament among the 225 lawmakers, nine of held the posts of Cabinet, state and deputy ministers.

About three weeks after the devastating blasts, the Muslim minority owned businesses and properties came under attacks from Sinhala community members, in which one person was killed.

Meanwhile, the police said it had opened a special investigation panel to probe the allegations against the two provincial governors and minister Bathiyutheen.

"Anyone can come forward to lodge a complain to this committee of a Senior Superintendent and two Assistant Superintendents," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Complaints so received will be handed over to the Crime Investigation Department (CID), he added.​

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