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UN special envoy begins visit to Burma

New Delhi (mizzima) - United Nations Special envoy Ibrahim Gambari on Friday arrived in Burma’s former capital city of Rangoon and has reportedly headed for Naypyitaw, the new capital, to meet with officials from the ruling junta.

During the trip Gambari is expected to meet with senior generals of the junta as well as with opposition party leaders from the National League for Democracy, including detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

However a UN spokesperson in Rangoon declined to explain further details of the envoy’s trip, which has been reported as a forerunner to determine whether the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, will make his second visit to the military-ruled country in early July.

According to a spokesperson for the Secretary General in New York, Gambari, following his visit to Burma will report to Ban on his trip before the Secretary General leaves for Japan next week.

“The Secretary General has not yet announced when he would go to Myanmar [Burma],” Michele Montas, the Secretary General’s spokesperson said.

The Nigerian diplomat is on his eighth visit to the military-ruled country since he was appointed as the special envoy to Burma in 2006. But his visits have thus far failed to ignite talks between Senior General Than Shwe and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The current trip has attracted criticism as the UN has maintained a strange aura of secrecy over the visit, unlike Gambari’s earlier sojourns which were announced well in advance.

Win Tin, a veteran journalist and Central Executive Committee member of the NLD, said the low profile visit could be because the UN wants to persuade the junta against sidelining party leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Now it is obvious that the junta is trying to sideline Aung San Suu Kyi from mainstream politics. So, it seems that the UN wants to silently persuade the junta against sidelining her. This is what I think of the low profile visit,” Win Tin said.

He added that the NLD welcomes Gambari’s visit as well as the UN’s initiatives but reiterates that the UN must push for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and facilitate a meeting between her and Senior General Than Shwe, the junta’s head.

“Though we are calling for national reconciliation, it cannot kick-start unless the two of them start meeting,” Win Tin added.

Currently, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is facing trial in a special court in Insein prison under charges of breaching her previous terms of detention and could be imprisoned up to five years if found guilty.

Win Tin said the trial is an obvious move by the junta to sideline the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate from mainstream politics and to exclude her from the junta’s planned 2010 elections.

“We want to urge the UN to first secure Aung San Suu Kyi’s release before talking about the 2010 election. The UN should also urge the constitution drafted by the junta be amended,” he further stipulated. 
Last Updated ( Friday, 26 June 2009 20:25 )  

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