UN envoy's visit falls short of expectations

Mar 12, 2008 (DVB), United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that the recent visit of his special envoy to Burma did not make as much progress as he had hoped.

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari was in Burma from 6 to 10 March, his third visit since the regime's crackdown on demonstrations in September last year, and is due to meet Ban Ki-moon in Senegal on Thursday to brief him on his mission.

He will then report back to the UN Security Council on his return to New York.

Ban Ki-moon said that Gambari had had the opportunity to meet a number of senior officials during his visit.

"Of course, he was not able to meet with senior general Than Shwe, but he has met many senior people, even including the Constitution drafting or review committee members," he said.

However, senior government officials rejected the UN's calls for more inclusiveness in the constitution process, the release of political prisoners and monitoring of the upcoming national referendum.

The secretary-general said he would continue to press the Burmese government to take steps towards democratisation.

"There was some progress [during Gambari's visit], but we have not been able to achieve as much as we had hoped, but this is an ongoing effort," he said.

"I will continue to press this issue, so that Myanmar will meet the expectations of the international community towards democratisation."

A spokesperson for the secretary-general said that he currently had no plans to visit Burma himself.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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