CWC, SLMC to decide their future with UNF this weekend
[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 May 2004, 17:58 GMT]
The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), major constituents in the United National Front (UNF), are likely to decide their future with the main opposition UNF before May 18th, political sources said
The parliament is scheduled to meet on May 18 to elect Deputy Speaker, Chairman of Committees, Standing Committees, and parliamentary consultative committees to ministries, sources said.
The CWC is led by Mr.Arumugam Thondaman and SLMC by Mr.Rauff Hakeem, both are former ministers in the then People's Alliance (PA) government led by President Chandrika Kumaratunge till 2001 and thereafter in the UNF government led by Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe till it was voted out of power in the April 2nd poll this year, sources said.
As the elections to the six provincial councils in the south are expected to take place in the first week of July, all major and minor political parties have been now engaged in selecting candidates to field. The leaderships of the CWC and SLMC have not yet taken a final decision to contest in the UNF ticket or alone. These parties are in two minds, to contest some PCs on UNF ticket and the rest alone, sources said.
The UNF leadership has now asked the CWC and SLMC to take final decision whether they are willing to contest as UNF constituents or not, sources said.
UNF leader and former Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe last Wednesday held a two-hour crucial meeting with the CWC leader Mr.Arumugam Thondaman on the question of contesting the provincial council elections. Mr.Wickremasinghe is reported to have asked Mr.Thondaman whether his party (CWC) would contest the elections to the Central Provincial Council, Sabragamuwa Provincial Council and Uva Provincial Council alone or with the UNF. Mr.Thondaman is reported to have replied that his party would take a final decision Friday on this issue, sources said.
Mr. Wickremasinghe had invited Mr.Thondaman for talks following media reports that the latter had assured President Kumaratunge two weeks ago in a discussion held at Nuwaraeliya that he would join her government only after the provincial elections, sources said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse, has replied to Mr.Hakeem that his government is prepared to hold talks with SLMC without any conditions. The SLMC had decided to extend conditional support to the minority UPFA government. The conditions were that the UPFA government should agree to allow a separate Muslim delegation to participate in the peace talks and the second one was to drop the idea of abolishing the executive presidency.
Mr. Rajapakse has told the SLMC that both parties could sort out differences through talks but not with any prior conditions, sources said.