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News  


 

Row over EPC opposition leader post heats up

By Rukshana Rizwie
Members of the United National Party (UNP) have threatened to walk out if Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe gives SLMC the upper hand to hold the position of opposition leader of the Eastern Provincial Council at their meeting tomorrow (31).
“Mohamed Furkan is the next person in line to be appointed as a member of the EPC to succeed the position, which fell vacant after Segu Dawood was elected as a MP,” said Ariyaratnam Sasikaran, a UNP member from the Eastern Provincial Council. “However, we members are also in the dark as to what Leader Wickremasinghe would say because he is said to have signed a pact with the SLMC in this regard.”
He added that all provincial council members were meeting tomorrow (31) and were going to question Ranil on what the pact dictates. He, however, added that party members felt strongly about the leadership position and have already threatened to walk out if Leader Wickremasinghe gives up the Eastern Provincial Council opposition leadership to the SLMC.
“We cannot sell the Tamil community to the SLMC,” he said vehemently. “We members have decided not to team up with the SLMC in future, never again, after what has been happening,” Sasikaran said.
Crisis has been brewing in the EPC on who would occupy the post of the leader of the opposition in the EPC after a seat fell vacant when Basheer Segu Dawood was elected a MP from the Batticaloa UNP District list.
The candidate eligible to fill the seat from the UNP is Mohammed Furkan from Meerodorai. However, the SLMC has demanded that the UNP nominate Mohammed Ismail, commonly known as ‘Ismail Haji’ of Valaichcheni, whose name appears below that of Furkan to fill the post.
Earlier, it was decided that the two members would hold the position in turns, Ismail Haji for the first 15 months and Mohammed Furkan for the next 15 months. This was decided at a meeting of the SLMC Eastern Provincial Council members held last week which was attended by Party Leader Rauff Hakeem, General Secretary Hassan Ali and Chairman Basheer Segu Dawood.