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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 72

Muslims insist that Tigers should lay down arms ..........

[b]Muslims insist that Tigers should lay down arms - non-cabinet minister Cegu Izzadeen[/b]

Interviewed by Anne Rodrigo

Cegu Izzadeen - a non Cabinet Minister, Assisting Small and Rural Industries of the present Kumaratunga administration, told the Asian Tribune that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, kept mum on P-TOMS, though he did not fully agree with the terms and conditions in it. He attributed the silence of Prime Minister to “political reasons” and did not wish to elaborate on it.

Defending the Prime Minister’s stance he said: “Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse personally told me that he is not fully in agreement with the P-TOMS. He believes that Muslims should have been consulted”.

Izzadeen is also the General Secretary National Unity Alliance, (NUA) the Muslim party based mainly in the east. It is led by Mrs. Ferial Ashroff, the wife of the founder of the party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC). This party split into two with Rauf Hakeen taking over the other wing – SLMC — of the party.

Izzadeen blasted Rauf Hakeem for aligning himself with the Ranil Wickremesinghe and taking “the Muslims for a ride.” Ranil Wickremesinghe and Rauf Hakeem are seen both their respective communities as selling out to Prabhakaran. Media reports had also alleged that Rauf Hakeem is in the pocket of Prabhakaran. Izzadeen said that Rauf Hakeen is a “good friend” of Ranil Wickremesinghe and both have sacrificed the Muslim interests.

Minister Izzadeen pooh-poohoed the idea of Rauf Hakeem running as an independent presidential candidate. He explained that Rauf Hakeem is fishing for a better bargain by going public on running as an independent candidate. “If they (SLMC) do so they will get nowhere,” he added.

Izzadeen also insisted that the LTTE should give up weapons before coming to the negotiating table.

“If the purpose of talking to the LTTE is simply because they have weapons, then I ask whether Muslims to should not take up arms to be equal at the negotiating table.”

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