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US envoy meets parties that won seats


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs Joseph Yun met political parties that won seats in November 7 elections, in Rangoon yesterday. 

Joseph-YunThe senior US diplomat was starting a four-day visit to Burma that will take in the first high-level talks between the two countries since the junta released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s from house arrest.

Yun was to meet junta Foreign Minister Nyan Win and he will meet Suu Kyi on Friday.

He met leaders from at least eight political parties for more than an hour yesterday, Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, secretariat of Democratic Party (Myanmar), who attended the meeting, told Mizzima.

“He wanted to know about the current political situation and asked us for our opinions on the Kalay Myo Declaration, which will be implemented by Daw Suu,” she said. Though withholding further details, she said Yun would discuss these same issues when he met Suu Kyi.

The Zomi National Congress (ZNC), an erstwhile ethnic minority political party that competed in the 1990 elections, at its 22nd founding day ceremony in late October in Kalay Myo (Town), Sagaing Division issued its “Kalay [Myo] Declaration” calling for the convening of a second Panglong conference to restore national reconciliation and establish an inclusive federal union.

More than 50 people including National League for Democracy vice-chairman Tin Oo and central executive committee member Win Tin, Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP) secretary Aye Tha Aung, Mon leaders Nai Ngwe Thein and Naing Tun Thein, prominent politicians Thakhin Thein Maung, Ohn Maung and Nyunt Thein, and student leaders, signed the declaration. Some political parties that contested in the election on November 7 also expressed their support for the goal of the declaration.

Suu Kyi was under house arrest when the declaration was made but she has joined calls for such a conference and the ZNC has handed over its implementation to her and her party, the NLD.

The Panglong Agreement was reached between the Burmese government under Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, and the Shan, Kachin and Chin peoples on February 12, 1947. Signatories accepted in principle “Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas” and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly (the first post-independence parliament). The deal came a year after the First Panglong Conference was held in the town of the same name in the south of Shan State.

Since 1948, the ethnic minorities have had their rights and self-determination in traditional areas of control denied, leading many of the groups to armed struggle against the Burmese military junta. Clashes in many areas have raged for more than 60 years.

Khin Maung Swe, leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), an offshoot of Suu Kyi’s NLD, also attended the meeting with Yun, telling Agence France-Presse that: “He asked about the election and we explained to him about the advanced voting.”

The elections, which handed a landslide majority to the military and its political proxy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, was marred by extensive allegations of vote rigging, ballot stuffing, pressure on all military, police and other civil servants to vote for the USDP, coercion to vote in advance, and dozens of other methods used by the party and the junta’s Union Election Commission (UEC) to ensure the party’s success.

Also meeting the US envoy were, party sources said, Khin Maung Gyi, joint general secretary of the National Unity Party, which won the second highest number of seats in the recent general election, NDF chairman Dr. Than Nyein, Karen People’s Party vice-chairman Dr. Simon Thar, and Rakhine Nationalities Development Party general secretary Hla Saw. Leaders from the Chin Progressive Party, Chin National Party, All Mon Region Democracy Party also attended.

The junta’s USDP party failed to show up despite also being invited. 

Some delegates expressed the wish to Yun for the United States to lift its sanctions agains the junta, Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein said. “They … gave the reason that it [sanctions] affected only the people, not the targeted [ruling military junta] generals,” she said.

US assistant secretary of state Dr. Kurt Campbell also visited Burma in May this year under a new two-pronged policy adopted by the administration of President Barack Obama that added limited engagement to the sanctions. He also met junta leaders, election commission officials, USDP party leaders and Suu Kyi.

Campbell, at a press conference in Bangkok ahead of his trip, called for the junta to release all political prisoners and for inclusion of all political actors in Burma’s general election.

Nevertheless, the junta failed to listen, and without the NLD participating, the USDP won 882 seats out of total 1,154 candidates fielded in national elections November 7.

An opposition leader said that Yun would meet the NLD and CRPP on Friday, the final day of his visit.

The US diplomat had left for Naypyidaw to meet junta officials including Nyan Win, Reuters reported from Rangoon yesterday afternoon.

According to a diplomatic source, the senior diplomat would likely face questions over information leaked worldwide from cables sent out of the US embassy in Rangoon and posted on the WikiLeaks whistle-blower website, in a bid to control damage to the US-Burma relationship.

The Guardian of London reported late on Monday that the cable said Nay Shwe Thway Aung, grandson of junta leader Than Shwe, had in 2008 pressured his grandfather to buy English Premier League football club Manchester United. The message said Than Shwe had considered the bid at the price tag of US$1 billion but had thought such a plan untenable amid international condemnation of the junta’s slowness to act following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis.

The junta leader instead ordered crony businessmen to form a professional football league in Burma. The cable detailed how the regime was thought to be using football to distract its population from continuing political and economic problems, the report said.

“The mooted price tag for Manchester United was exactly the same as the aid bill to cover the most urgent food, agriculture and housing for the three years after the cyclone, as estimated by international agencies including the UN,” The Guardian reported, quoting the cable. “The proposal revealed that the regime, which is increasingly exploiting its oil and gas reserves, felt confident of finding such a sum.”
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 December 2010 02:52 )  

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