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Muslim lawmaker arrested in Sri Lanka

A senior Muslim lawmaker in Sri Lanka was arrested on Monday after a six-day manhunt in connection with the alleged misuse of government funds to transport voters during the last year's presidential elections.

Siddhartha Singh

Siddhartha SinghBy Siddhartha Singh

Published on 19 Oct 2020 1:21 PM GMT

Muslim lawmaker arrested in Sri Lanka
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Muslim lawmaker arrested in Lanka
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Colombo: A senior Muslim lawmaker in Sri Lanka was arrested on Monday after a six-day manhunt in connection with the alleged misuse of government funds to transport voters during the last year's presidential elections.

Rishad Bathiyudeen, the leader of National Makkal Congress, a fringe Muslim party and a constituent partner of the main Opposition SJB was arrested by the officials of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in the Colombo suburb of Dehiwela.

The CID has charged him with misappropriating public funds to transport voters from the north west region's Puttalam to the north eastern Mannar for voting at the November 16 presidential election held last year.

They were Muslims who had been relocated in Puttalam after being evicted from the north in the early 90s due to the Tamil separatist conflict.

Sri Lanka's Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera last week issued orders to the Police to obtain a warrant from court to arrest Bathiyudeen.

Bathiyudeen had later filed a writ petition seeking an order to prevent his arrest.

His arrest came amidst speculation that some Muslim MPs from the Opposition may align with the ruling SLPP to adopt the government's proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution that aims to bolster the powers of the president,

According to political sources, after opposition raised publicly by the government's own members to 20A, the government was banking on the support coming from some Muslim MPs to complete the 150 seats or the mandatory two thirds parliamentary approval.

The sources said that the government's negotiations with the Muslims to win their support had faced with resistance from the government's Sinhala majority community nationalists.

The debate on the 20A has been fixed for October 21 and 22 with the second reading vote to be taken in the evening of Thursday.

The highest court's decision on the constitutionality of 20A is to be announced on Tuesday in Parliament.

The government on September 2 gazetted 20A, the new proposed legislation that would replace the 19th Amendment introduced in 2015 that curtailed the powers of the president and strengthened the role of Parliament.

(PTI)

Siddhartha Singh

Siddhartha Singh

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