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Sequel to Sri Lanka’s vehement opposition:

Top UN officials’ contradictions

Several top officials of the United Nations (UN), including its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have conducted themselves in a questionable manner, contradicting their own statements after Sri Lanka vehemently objected to the UN’s decision to appoint a three-member committee on alleged war crimes.

Though the UN founded in 1945 aimed at facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achieving world peace, Ki-moon and certain UN officials here and abroad have conducted themselves in a highly questionable manner during and after Sri Lanka’s relentless battle against terrorism.

Following the fast unto death campaign by National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa and the peaceful protest close to the UN office in Bauddhaloka Mawatha near Thunmulla Junction, certain UN officials made desperate attempts to link the developments in Colombo with a previous decision to close the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Sri Lanka.

The Government strongly disputed a move by Ki-moon to link the closure of the UNDP Regional Office in Colombo with the protests against the UN in Colombo over his arbitrary decision to delve into alleged war crime charges against Sri Lanka’s valiant Security Forces.

Though certain UN officials had attempted to paint a bleak picture and said that the closure of the UNDP Office was due to the protest campaign near the UN office at Thunmulla Junction, the UNDP office in Sri Lanka is at Independence Avenue, Colombo 7.

Informed sources said the government and the diplomatic community here had been aware of the UN decision last year to relocate the UNDP Regional Office in Bangkok as part of its cost cutting program.

Some UNDP employees in Colombo had been even granted fresh appointments in UN agencies in Sri Lanka over the past few months.

But the UN Secretary General contradicted this on Thursday and said that the disruption of UN operations in Colombo due to the protest campaign forced them to shut down the UNDP Regional Centre and recall UN Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne to New York for “urgent consultations”.

The UNDP Regional Centre had been earlier in Kathmandu and was moved to Colombo a few years ago due to the political unrest in Nepal.

The UN took a decision to relocate the UNDP office in Colombo during the height of the LTTE terror attacks in 2006. A diplomatic source in Colombo alleged that the UNSG had made “an obvious bid to deceive the international community” as part of a plan to exert pressure on Sri Lanka.

This was proved beyond doubt after UN officials in New York contradicted their Colombo-based official’s statement within hours. Earlier on Friday, the UN office in Colombo said that preparations were under way for several months to close the UNDP Regional Centre in Sri Lanka and it was not linked to the NFF protest.

“To my knowledge, the closure of the UNDP Regional Centre has nothing to do with this current issue because it has been on the cards for several months.

It is not a new move,” an official of the UN mission was quoted as saying. However, hours later, UN Associate spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York that the two incidents were linked to each other.

He said that following the protests in Colombo the UN Secretary General had decided to shut down the UNDP Regional Centre.

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[Weerawansa ends fast-unto-death]

 

NFF Leader and Engineering Services, Housing, Construction and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa was forced to abandon his fast-unto-death protest campaign against the step taken by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in appointing an experts’ panel on Sri Lanka after President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the scene and offered him a glass of king coconut (thambili) water. Minister Weerawansa, whose health condition deteriorated with a reported kidney problem, accepted the drink offered by President Rajapaksa.

The NFF leader was later driven away in an ambulance to hospital. Weerawansa’s resignation from the Cabinet portfolio on Friday was not accepted by President Rajapaksa. The Minister began his fast-unto-death campaign opposite the UN Country Office in Colombo on Thursday, demanding that UN Secretary General to abolish the advisory panel on Sri Lanka.

 

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[Ban Ki-moon softens stance ]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has softened his stance following huge opposition from Sri Lanka, its friendly countries and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In his latest statement issued in New York, the UN Secretary General said that he appointed a three-member advisory panel to become the “resource available to assist the Government of Sri Lanka and the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation in applying the international best practice in this regard”. Ki-moon said that the three-member panel appointed by him on Sri Lanka has been set up to advise him with regard to taking forward the objectives of the joint statement on May 23, 2009 between Sri Lanka and the UN and is not an investigative body.

In a new statement released from New York, the UN Chief said that the panel itself will advise him on the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to an accountability process.

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