Wednesday, Sep 25, 2002
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By V.S. Sambandan
Placing the emphasis on "power-sharing'' rather than on territorial demarcation as a means to address the Muslim concerns, Rauff Hakeem, leader of the SLMC, downplayed a key Muslim demand for a separate administrative entity.
"What I feel is that trying to jump to geographical definitions too fast is not going to contribute to bridge-building", Mr. Hakeem said, when he was asked at a press conference today about the status of an earlier Muslim demand for a separate administrative council for the island's Muslims.
A separate administrative unit, tentatively referred to as south-eastern council, was seen by the Muslims here as part of a larger solution to the decades-long ethnic conflict to safeguard their interests. This was against the backdrop of strained LTTE-Muslim relations during the past decade, especially after the Tigers ordered all Muslims in the north out in the early 1990s.
Mr. Hakeem's present stance comes against two recent developments: the LTTE's announcement that it would settle for "regional autonomy and self-governance" and its recognition of Sri Lanka's north-east as homeland for the island's "Tamils and Muslims".
The negotiations, he said, should "work towards the end result". On the issue of political power, he said that while "most people try to define power by territories" he would "define power by power itself". This would be in terms of how much could be effectively done by power. The key issue, he said, was to "avoid dominance".
The solution was to "avoid one side dominating the other and try to achieve structural and institutional formulas to define that power, which each community can enjoy", he added.
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