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UN chief recalls Lanka envoy

In an unprecedented move, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon today recalled the world body’s top envoy to Sri Lanka and closed down an office in light of the continuing protests over a panel set up to investigate war crimes. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Jul 09, 2010 01:34 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

In an unprecedented move, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday recalled the world body’s top envoy to Sri Lanka and closed down an office in light of the continuing protests over a panel set up to investigate war crimes.

In a statement, Ban Ki-moon said it was "Unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo as a result of unruly protests organised and led by a Cabinet Minister of the Government."

Minister and close ally of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Weemal Weerawansa, went on a hunger strike on Thursday, the third day of protests, demanding that three-member panel set up Ban Ki-moon be dissolved.

"In light of the evolving situation, he is recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne, to New York for consultations. He has also decided that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Centre in Colombo will be closed," the UN statement said.

The statement added that UN called upon the government to live up to its responsibilities towards the world body as "A host country, so as to ensure continuation of the vital work of the organisation to assist the people of Sri Lanka without any further hindrance."

In Sri Lanka, the UNDP, which began its operations in the late ‘60s is involved with poverty reduction, the Millennium Development Goals, Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction, Governance and Peace and Recovery.