Minority groups on the fence

Feb 9 (IL) Minority political parties also dubbed as the 'king makers' currently supporting the United National Party (UNP) began contemplating whether they should continue extending their support to the UNP or to the newly formed Sri Lanka Freedom Party-Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Alliance.

The Hakeem and Athaullah factions of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) began intensified discussions on their next move, several hours after President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament and calling for polls scheduled for April 2, 2004. The SLMC has 12 seats, while the CWC has three seats in parliament.

Ceylon Workers Congress Parliamentarian R. Yogarajan when asked whether they would continue supporting a UNP-led government said, " these are matters that should be negotiated, but our party's executive committee will meet in the evening to decide, whom to talk to and how to talk to."

While S. Subairdeen, leader of the SLMC's Athaullah Faction, which goes under the banner 'Ashraff Congress' said that they will take a decision today on their next move. Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress under the leadership of its leader Rauff Hakeem held a meeting in Oluvil to discuss the ongoing political situation. But the party is yet to take a decision whether to support the SLFP-JVP alliance or else continue supporting the UNP.

However SLMC sources said that the party's leadership was under pressure from members of its politburo to contest the forthcoming election alone. Mr. Hakeem was not available for comment at the time of going to press