SLMC split over backing PA

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 17 October 2000, 12:56 GMT]
Differences between the co-leaders of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Mrs.Ferial Ashraff and Mr.Rauf Hakeem, that had been brewing this week over the nature of the party's support to the People's Alliance spilled, into the open Tuesday as the majority of the party's MPs said they backed the former's decision to join the government.

A statement explaining the position of Mrs.Ferial Ashraff was issued today by the chairman of the SLMC multi-ethnic front group, the National Unity Alliance.

The rupture in the SLMC follows a one to one meeting between Mrs.Ashraff and Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike Monday evening.

A meeting was convened Tuesday morning at Mrs.Ferial Ashraff's home to discuss the issue. The discussion was chaired by Mr.U.L.M Mohideen SLMC MP for Ampara.

The statement was issued in Sinhala following this discussion at which six MPs of the party had pledged to back Mrs.Ferial in her decision to support the PA sans the conditions which Mr.Hakeem has been insisting.

Meanwhile, one of the MPs backing Mr.Hakeem said that experience has taught the Muslim Congress that it should not join a PA government without agreeing on some fundamental issues.

The SLMC has eleven seats in Parliament now. (four who contested as PA candidates in Ampara, two from PA's national list, six MPs from the NUA, one from Batticaloa, two from Trincomalee, one from the Vanni, one from Kandy and one from the party's's national list)

Of these six MPs are backing Mrs.Ferial Ashraff and three are with Mr.Hakeem party sources in Kalmunai told TamilNet.


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