The proposed joint mechanism between the government and the LTTE, to handle tsunami relief and reconstruction, is running into stiff resistance from the Muslim political parties and the Sinhala organisations in the Eastern Province.
Protests against the joint mechanism confined to party meetings at present are likely to spill on to the streets shortly if the government makes a hasty move to implement the proposal, according to sources in the Eastern Province.
While SLMC led by former Minister Rauff Hakeem is demanding representation in the mechanism to be set up, the UPFA ally and Leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) Minister Fariel Ashraff is vehemently opposing it. The National Muslim Congress, too, is objecting to a joint mechanism with the LTTE as it will not serve the interests of Muslims in any way. It demands a separate mechanism for Muslims.
Meanwhile, the LTTE has postponed the press conference which had been scheduled for today in Kilinochchi to make its views known on the joint mechanism. According to sources, the LTTE has taken this decision in view of the opposition to the proposal in the south.
Those who oppose the joint mechanism, according to sources, have the blessing of the renegade LTTE commander Karuna Amman, who has vowed to drive the Wanni Faction form the Eastern Province.
Asked why the NUA, despite being a coalition partner of the government, was against the proposed mechanism, Minister Ashraff told The Island, `Why a joint mechanism with the LTTE?` She said the Muslim community could not repose their trust in the LTTE which had driven them away from the North and committing crimes against them in the East. She said if the government had funds, it could channel them straight to the most affected areas for the benefit of victims, be they Muslims, Sinhelse or Tamils.