"No difference with UNF over peace talks" -SLMC leader
[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 March 2002, 19:10 GMT]
"It is the duty of Muslims to extend their support to the present peace process initiated by the United National Front government which is now gaining momentum," said Mr. Rauff Hakeem, the leader of the SLMC and the Minister of Port Development and Shipping, Eastern Development and Muslim religious affairs addressing a meeting at Maruthamunai in the Ampara district Saturday, denying a media report that his party has issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
According to a report filed by Mr. Lucien Rajakarunanayaka, former chairman of the state run Lake House News Papers and a close confidante of President Kumaratunga, to the website Lanka Academic Friday, Mr. Hakeem had issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe this week that his (Hakeem's) party would leave the coalition if the UNF government failed to solve problems raised by the SLMC regarding the cease-fire agreement between Colombo and the Tigers.
Tamil National Alliance politicians in the east charge that the SLMC is being "manipulated by interested external forces to scuttle the peace process."
The SLMC, a major constituent of the UNF, has 11 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament.
The SLMC under the leadership of Mr. Rauff Hakeem played a vital role in bringing down the People's Alliance government last year and installing a UNF government in power at the last general election.
Minister Rauff Hakeem addressing several public meetings in the east Saturday reiterated that the SLMC would continue to support the UNF government's peace negotiations with the Liberation Tigers.