The SLMC is under heavy pressure to take a tougher stand on recent violence directed at the Muslim community at Alutgama and Beruwala.
Political sources told The Island that the SLMC seemed divided over the position taken up by party leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem that the party should continue its fight for Muslims’ rights, while being a constituent of the SLFP-led UPFA.
British High Commissioner John Rankin yesterday joined a long list of diplomats to seek a briefing from Minister Hakeem on the current situation. HC Rankin was accompanied by Ms. Sarah Mann (Second Secretary Political). SLMC Deputy Leader and Eastern Provincial Minister Hafiz Nazeer Ahamed joined the discussion.
Asked whether the UK had offered to help Minister Hakeem face threats posed by extremist organisations, a British HC spokesperson said: “The High Commissioner routinely meets government ministers in the course of his work. His meeting with the Minister for Justice covered a range of issues, including the recent violence in the South.”
Sources said that Minister Hakeem had briefed HC Rankin on his discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Badulla last Saturday and Tuesday’s meeting with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The previous day, Ambassador Obonlensky, Deputy Head of Human Security Division, Swiss Foreign Ministry and Switzerland Ambassador to Sri Lanka Thomas Litscher met Justice Minister Hakeem. Discussions focused on recent racial violence. A.M Faiz, Director, International affairs, SLMC and several other Swiss embassy officials also participated in the discussions.
The US Ambassador in Colombo also met Minister Hakeem in the wake of Sunday June 15 violence.
Diplomatic sources told The Island that some of the Colombo based western diplomatic missions were happy that the SLMC had invited senior UN officials to examine the situation here.