The Sri Lankan government appears to have ruled out accommodating an independent Muslim delegation at peace talks on grounds that it cannot ‘agree to every demand put forward by the 57 registered political parties operating in the country.
Governments defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that, “Muslims are represented at peace talks in the form of Minister and National Unity Alliance leader Ms. Ferial Ashraff. There are 57 registered political parties that do not mean we have to send 57 people in addition to the government delegation.”
He noted that the demand put forward by several political parties including the country’s predominant Muslim party, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, to accommodate a separate independent Muslim delegation at peace talks ‘was not practical’.
“There are 57 registered party parties, if every single party says they would like to represent their people then it would mean we would have to send 57 people to talks. Even Karuna Amman says he should be accommodated because he represents the Eastern Tamils, then in time to come people from Matara will demand a separate representation on grounds that they are Southern Sinhalese, these demands are not practical,” the Minister said.
He suggested that instead these parties can put forward their proposals and recommendations to the All Party Conference and the All Party Representatives Committee. “These can be evaluated, but the public will at the end make the final decision on the country’s future,” he added.