Cabinet meeting not held; PM says that will not make it defunt

The cabinet would not become defunct just because its weekly meeting was not held, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday (11) during a meeting with representatives of civil society organizations and trade unions.

"I have been appointed the Prime Minister, as the leader of the party with a majority of MPs, with the approval of the Parliament. I have appointed the Cabinet with the support of the Parliament. The Parliament also appoints Select Committees. Thus the cabinet has no ability to intervene in the affairs of the Select Committees," he said.

Wickremesinghe said that the Select Committee on the Easter Bombings was appointed with the agreement of all political parties. "We asked two things from the Select Committee. One is to investigate the allegations against Rishad Bathiudeen as soon as possible. The No Confidence Motion against the government by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is to be taken up in July, so we want to have a resolution on this before that. The second is to remove the media from the floor when officers attached to intelligence services give evidence before the Select Committee," the Prime Minister said.

He added that the Three members Committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena on the Easter Bombings too had handed over their report. The government would also implement their recommendations. "A large number of Muslims have been arrested during search operations after the April 21 attacks. Those who are not involved will be produced in courts and released," he said.

The Prime Minister also criticized the statements made by former Eastern Province Governor, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah in Kattankudy where he claimed that while Muslims were a minority in Sri Lanka they were a majority in the world and that they could not be subjugated by anyone.

"We must stop these racist comments. We must act as Sri Lankans. Only the government can grant degrees, thus we are going to take over the so called Sharia University in the East," he said. Wickremeinghe added that the government had faced many obstacles from racist elements. However it would act according to the advise of the Maha Nayakas of the three Nikayas. "Many religious leaders claim that an independent committee must be established for religious reconciliation and we are working on it," he said.

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