Nine Sri Lankan Muslim ministers, who resigned recently in the wake of growing anti-minority sentiments in the country following the Easter suicide bombings, are likely to rejoin their office on the request of chief Buddhist prelates.
Along with the nine ministers, two provincial governors from the minority community also resigned on June 3 to allow the Lankan government to investigate allegations against some of them on links to an Islamist extremist group blamed for the deadly terror attack that claimed 258 lives.
“There will be a meeting on June 18 to reconsider our positions since we have been asked to return to our ministerial positions,” AHM Haleem, who was one of the ministers to quit, told reporters here on Saturday.
Haleem, who was the Minister of Posts, said the ministers are reconsidering their decision after the chief Buddhist prelates urged them to return to the government.
There are 19 Muslims lawmakers in the 225-member Parliament and nine of them held Cabinet, state and deputy ministerial positions.
The nine Muslim politicians had also protested what they term the government’s inability to ensure the safety of their community which constitute 9 per cent of the island’s 21 million population.
Their resignations came four days after thousands of people, majority of whom were Buddhist monks, launched a protest in the pilgrim city of Kandy, demanding the expulsion of three Muslim leaders whom they alleged were linked to the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) – the banned outfit blamed for the attacks on three Colombo hotels and three churches.
The three were Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Badiyudeen, Western Province governor Azath Salley and Eastern Province governer ALM Hisbullah. All of them have rejected the allegations.
In a related development, former governor Hisbullah was questioned for over eight hours on Saturday by the Terrorism Investigation Division of the police over his alleged links to the NTJ.