UN goes back from Sri Lanka over protest

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Colombo, Jul 9: As government-sanctioned protests against an investigation into alleged war crimes went into their third day on Friday, Jul 9, the UN was compelled to close its office in Sri Lanka.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, said on Thursday, Jul 8 that it was "unacceptable" that Sri Lankan authorities had failed to prevent the disruption of UN activities in the country.

Ban ordered Neil Buhne, the UN special envoy for Sri Lanka, to return to UN headquarters in New York for consultations and to close the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Colombo.

Wimal Weerawansa, Construction minister and members of his National Freedom Front (NFF) party, a member of the governing coalition, launched a protest outside the UN office in Colombo on Tuesday, Jul 6 and later started hunger strike on Jul 8.

Weerawansa vowed continue his campaign until Ban reverses his decision to name a panel to investigate alleged war crimes against Tamil civilians.

A panel was appointed on Jun 2010, mandated to advise Ban on measures to deal with the Sri Lankan government's accountability for its actions during the final stage in the 26-year civil war to defeat Tamil rebels last year. Thousands of civilians were reportedly killed.

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