Colombo: A Sri Lankan cabinet minister,
on a hunger strike demanding scraping of a UN advisory panel
on the country, called off his fast today after President
Mahinda Rajapaksa visited him at the protest site.
Housing minister Wimal Weerawansa went on a
`fast-unto-death` on Thursday outside the UN office here,
demanding that the world body scrap a panel set up to probe
allegations of war crimes during the country`s civil war.
President Rajapaksa on Saturday visited the minister at the
protest site and gave him a glass of water, before he was sent
to a hospital in an ambulance.
Rajapaksa also spoke to doctors attending on
Weerawansa, who told him that his condition was very bad,
The minister was then persuaded to break his fast and
was rushed to the hospital.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has named a three
member panel to advise him on "accountability issue" during
the war between government forces and Tamil Tigers which ended
in May last year.
In protest, the minister`s supporters laid siege to
the UN compound on Tuesday. Since then, demonstrators have
protested outside the UN compound here.
Two days later, Weerawansa began a "fast-unto-death"
to protect the country`s military as he said that any
international probe could lead to questioning of Sri Lankan
armed forces and even some political leaders.
Rajapaksa`s visit to the site came just hours after
Weerawansa had vowed not to relent.
The UN recalled its top envoy to Sri Lanka, Neil Buhne
to New York for discussions and closed down the UNDP office in
Colombo following angry protests against the panel.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had slammed as
"unacceptable" the failure of the Sri Lankan government to
facilitate the normal working of the UN offices.
The US, Britain and several EU nations condemned the
protest against the UN panel.
The minister also resigned from the Cabinet yesterday
to avert a direct confrontation between the world body and the
However, Rajapaksa was yet to accept the resignation.
Weerawansa heads the National Freedom Front, an ally
of Rajapaksa led United People`s Freedom Alliance coalition.