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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2677

Crucial meeting between Sri Lanka government and main Muslim party tonight

Munza Mushtaq – Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 15 January, (Asiantribune.com): A crucial meeting between two high ranking delegations representing the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the government will be held tonight (Monday).

The meeting also comes just hours after the SLMC's high command gave the green light to its leader Rauff Hakeem to go ahead and seal a deal with the government if it agrees to four main points forwarded by the Muslim party, which currently has six seats in Parliament.

The party's deputy Secretary General Nizam Kariapper told the “Asian Tribune” that the SLMC will be represented by its leader, Secretary General M. T. Hasan Ali, Chairman Basheer Cegu Dawood, former MP M. L. A. M. Hisbullah and himself.

The government delegation will include Ministers Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Viswa Warnapala and Janaka Bandara Tennakoon.

"The SLMC has four main demands and at this meeting if the government agrees to these demands then we will support the government," he said.

The demands include: the accommodation of a separate independent Muslim delegation at peace talks, amend the Pradeshiya Sabha act enabling Muslims to fill vacancies in the Eastern province, set up a coastal district in Ampara and matters pertaining to the party's political powers.

Mr. Kariapper noted that once these demands are agreed upon then the SLMC leader will initiate discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to come to an agreement on other sensitive issues including ministerial portfolios.

The government's attempts to lure the SLMC comes amidst reports of a rocky situation facing the Memorandum of understanding signed between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, following a Cabinet nod to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to accommodate any UNP crossovers.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is reported to have declared that the agreement signed in October last year would be annulled if the government resorted to such tactics.

Meanwhile, another SLMC member last week declared that he will join the government even if talks between the SLMC and the government failed.

- Asian Tribune -

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