Lanka's key Muslim party quits govt ahead of crucial voting

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Colombo, Dec 12 (UNI) Sri Lanka's key Muslim party today quit the ruling coalition of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and sat with the opposition ranks in Parliament, ahead of a crucial vote on the budget.

Four parliamentarians of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), led by Minister Rauf Hekeem resigned their ministerial portfolios and crossed the floor in the 225-member Parliament, claiming to cast their vote against final voting of the budget proposals for 2008.

Party sources charged that the government's failure to fulfil their demands in relation to their community has forced the SLMC to quit the government, despite the fact that the party voted for the budget during its second reading last month.

Mr Rajapaksa unveiled the budget in Parliament in November this year, raising the country's defence spending to 166.44 billion rupees for the financial year 2008.

The legislators voted for the budget 118-102 when it was taken up for a vote on its second reading.

The Appropriation bill presented in Parliament early October this year showed that the proposed defence spending in 2008 would be to the tune of 166.44 billion rupees, up from an estimated 139.4 billion rupees in 2007.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) today complained in Parliament that the relatives of three of their MPs from the Eastern province had been abducted last night by an armed group in the East, threatening the concerned MPs to vote for the budget.

UNI

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