Gambari's visit sees no progress in Burma

Feb 5, 2009 (DVB), The National League for Democracy has expressed disappointment that the visit of United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Burma did not bring about any progress.

The government account of the meetings between Gambari and senior regime leaders was published in the state-run New Light of Myanmar yesterday.

The special envoy met prime minister general Thein Sein and several other ministers during his latest trip, which ran from 31 January to 4 February.

Gambari also met detained NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior party members during his visit.

Reporting on the meetings between the special envoy and junta officials, the New Light article said Gambari had called for the release of political prisoners, tried to encourage dialogue between the government and the NLD and discussed a visit to the country by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Prime minister Thein Sein called on the special envoy to recognise the government's roadmap as the best way forward for the country, and said the regime would respect the desire of the majority of people in the country who had approved the 2008 constitution.

The prime minister said that opposition parties should work in unity with the government, and encouraged Gambari to urge them to do so.

Thein Sein also made a particular point of requesting that the UN lift economic sanctions against Burma to allow the country to develop.

Information minister brigadier-general Kyaw Hsan echoed Thein Sein's words, calling for political stability to allow a peaceful transition to democracy.

Kyaw Hsan also said that Aung San Suu Kyi had refused two offers of meetings with liaison minister Aung Kyi, and recalled her refusal to meet Gambari during his last visit.

The information minister rejected Gambari proposal for a review of the long-term prison sentences imposed upon political activists over the past three months, stating that the sentences were given in accordance with the law and all those jailed have the right to appeal.

NLD spokesperson Nyan Win dismissed this statement, highlighting the unfairness of judicial processes in the country.

"Everybody can see that trials are not fairness in Burma when people are given no chance to defend themselves and are subject to such severe sentences," he said.

"The government is trying to say that this is only the responsibility of the courts. I would like to state that there is no truth in this."

Nyan Win also called on the government to respect the results of the 1990 election if it is serious in its commitment to the wishes of the people.

"I like it when the information minister talked about having respect for the people’s desire," he said.

"If that is the case, then they should consider respecting the results of the 1990 elections which were approved by the people."

Nyan Win said the NLD appreciated Gambari's efforts, but did not believe that any real progress had been made during his trip.

"From reading the newspaper today, it looks as though the government will not accept any of the points made by the NLD regarding national reconciliation," Nyan Win said.

"But we noticed that Mr Gambari said what needed to be said during his trip, so we appreciate the UN’s work in fulfilling its duty," he said.

"But looking at the situation as a whole, I would say we are not seeing any progress."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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