June 24, 2011/by Shamindra Ferdinando
The SLMC is pushing for immediate expansion of post-war bilateral talks between the SLFP-led government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on devolution of powers.The SLMC says the Muslims should be represented at the talks and the failure on the part of the government to accommodate the party wouldn’t help ongoing national reconciliation efforts.
An aide to Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem told The Island that the SLMC leader had discussed the issue with Japanese Ambassador in Colombo Kunio Takahashi at the minister’s residence this week. The official quoted Hakeem as having told Kunio that it would be President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s prerogative to address the issue.
Minister Hakeem said that the Muslim factor couldn’t be ignored. The Kandy District MP was responding to a query by Ambassador Kunio. The SLMC contested the last parliamentary polls on the UNP ticket but switched its allegiance to President Rajapaksa over a year to support the controversial 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which did away with the time-limit on the presidency.
Hakeem said that there was a friendly exchange of ideas between his party and the TNA.
Minister Hakeem and Ambassador Kunio discussed the forthcoming Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) meet in Colombo.The five-day meet will begin on Monday (June 27). The Justice Minister said that the government of Sri Lanka appreciated a decision by Japanese national Justice Hisashi Owada, President of the International Court of Justice to attend the Colombo meet.
Minister Hakeem and Ambassador Kunio the role played by the Government of Japan during the previous UNP-led UNF administration, through Japanese Special Peace Envoy Yashushi Akashi.
Minister Hakeem on behalf of the government thanked Japan for continuing assistance to Sri Lanka in spite of recent tsunami tragedy, which caused massive economic losses on the Japanese economy. The Minister appreciated Japanese support for ongoing post-war recovery project, particularly restoration of the government hospital at Kilinochchi.