COLOMBO — All of Sri Lanka’s Muslim ministers and their deputies and two Muslim provincial governors in Sri Lanka have resigned on Monday.
The resignations of nine ministers and two provincial governors come after thousands of people led by Buddhist monks began demonstrating Monday morning in the country’s central city of Kandy.
Hardline Buddhist monks, including firebrand monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, who has long been accused of instigating hate crimes against Muslims, had set a deadline to the government to fire Muslim provincial governors and a minister, according to media reports.
Western Province Governor Azath Salley and Eastern Province Governor MALM Hisbullah, handed over their resignation letters to President Maithripala Sirisena in response to protests by the majority Buddhist monks, officials said.
Salley and Hisbullah, both Muslim allies of Sirisena and appointed by him, were under pressure to resign after being accused of being linked to extremism, IANS reports.
Both Salley and Hisbullah have rejected the allegations.
More than 250 people were killed in the coordinated suicide bombings on churches and hotels on Easter blamed on Islamist extremists.
At a press conference on Monday, Rauff Hakeem, the leader of Sri Lanka’s primary Muslim political party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said: “All Muslim cabinet, non-cabinet and deputy ministers – all those representing Muslims – will resign [from their portfolios].
“If our ministerial portfolios are in the way, we are willing to give it up for the safety of our community.”
He said that the Muslim politicians would continue in their positions as Members of Parliament. The former ministers will sit at the back of parliament and will cease to hold any ministerial positions.
“We will continue to support this government but will give them a grace period of one month to complete their investigations,” he said. “Until such time we don’t feel that it’s suitable to remain in this government,” Rauff Hakeem said.
Hakeem said the Muslim community is concerned over the arrests of some innocent Muslims for alleged connections to the Easter Sunday attacks.
He said that police must hold a proper inquiry and punish anyone if the terror group had been supported by them.
The Muslim politicians also protested what they term the government’s inability to ensure the safety of their community which constitutes 9 per cent of the island’s 21 million population, reports PTI.