Support urged for LTTE’s political efforts

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 May 2002, 00:18 GMT]
The leader of Sri Lanka’s largest Muslim party Monday slammed opponents of the Norwegian peace initiative and urged support for the Liberation Tigers’ political efforts, the Thinakkuaral reported Tuesday. Speaking in the parliament, Mr. Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), urged political parties to support efforts by the LTTE leader, Vellupillai Pirapaharan, to end the island’s ethnic conflict, the Tamil language daily said.

Mr Hakeem, who is also Sri Lanka’s Minister of Port Development & Shipping and Minister of Eastern Development & Muslim Religious Affairs, said that the Tamil Tigers couldn't be asked to hand over their arms as a precondition for talks, given the reality that the LTTE controls a substantial section of territory.

Speaking during a postponed debate on security, Mr. Hakeem said that he did not support the division of the country and insisted that the Sri Lankan government shares the [main Sinhala] opposition's view that power should be devolved without division of the state.

The government was certainly working on that basis, Mr Hakeem stated. He also dismissed criticism of the permanent ceasefire signed by the LTTE and the government in February.

"The ceasefire accord was signed not to divide this country but to create a situation of normalcy. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramula's (JVP) campaign against the government's efforts to achieve peace cannot be accepted,“ he said.

“The {JVP’s] argument considers only the Sinhala people's welfare - and [does not support] Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims living with equal rights. [Therefore] their argument cannot be accepted.”

Mr. Hakeem also defended his meeting with Mr. Pirapaharan last month, which has been condemned by Sinhala nationalists and his political opponents within the Muslim community.

"Some have made derogatory comments of my meeting with Mr Pirapaharan in Vanni as me kneeling in submission in front of him. I went to meet the leader of the Liberation Tigers to discuss some important matters. So any Muslim mocking that event is being ridiculous. We will not kneel in front of anyone but Allah,” the SLMC leader said.

 

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