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Lanka-UN battle leads to minister resigning

world Updated: Jul 10, 2010 00:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
Lanka-UN battle leads to minister resigning

The drama over anti-UN protests continued in Colombo on Friday with the cabinet minister on fast unto death resigning to save the government from “international embarrassment.’’

Construction minister Weemal Weerwansa’s resignation — yet to be accepted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa till late on Friday — came within hours of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon recalling the Lanka UN envoy to New York for consultation and closing down the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) regional office.

Weerawansa has been sitting on protest since earlier this week, and has been on a hunger strike since Thursday, demanding that Ban Ki-moon dissolve the three-member panel he constituted to advise him on war crimes allegations as the civil war ended in May, 2009.

Confusion, however, also prevailed over Ban Ki-moon’s decision to shut the UNDP regional office. While the UN statement made it seem that the UNDP office was being shut down because of the protests, UN officials and staffers here said the regional office was anyway being gradually downsized and operations were to be moved to Bangkok.

An UN official from New York agreed, saying the ongoing protests “expedited’’ the move.