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Low expectations for Gambari visit

Jul 17, 2008 (DVB), Opposition figures and a political analyst have expressed doubts over whether the planned visit of United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Burma in mid-August will bring about any positive outcomes.

U Nyan Win, spokesperson for the National League for Democracy, said the party did not have high expectations for the envoy's visit.

"The only thing this shows is that Mr Gambari’s role, as a negotiator for national reconciliation in Burma on behalf of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, still exists," Nyan Win said.

"Whether or not this will be a successful mission doesn’t depend on the UN’s efforts alone," he said.

"But we can still hope for the success if everyone starts participating , Mr Gambari, the UN and everyone who has a concern."

U Chan Htun, a veteran politican and former Burmese ambassador to China, said the government had approved the trip in order to push its own agenda on issues such as the constitution and 2010 elections, and to press Gambari to encourage opposition groups to participate in the elections.

"They invited Mr Gambari because they have confidence that they can get something they want," he said.

"Our government doesn't do anything without being sure of the outcome; they know only what they want and they do not care about anyone else."

Burma analyst Aung Naing Oo said he had little hope for the efforts by Gambari and the UN.

"[Gambari] would just keep going to Burma until the end of his term or until the Burmese government stops allowing him into the country," Aung Naing Oo said.

"If he doesn't want to go, a new person will be appointed to continue this work. So he’ll just have to go there regardless what outcome is going to result."

Aung Naing Oo said no noticeable successes had come out of the special envoy's previous trips.

"A very common question from both inside and outside Burma is what he is going to do seeing as the government’s road map for democracy is going forward," he said.

"In Mr Razali Ismail’s era, people used to have some hope from his trips to Burma because there was always something to hope for," he went on.

"But with Mr Gambari, a lot of people are starting to think he is only being used by the Burmese regime for their own ends."

Razali Ismail, the former UN special envoy to Burma, said that it was important to keep channels of communication with the junta open.

"The ability to talk to the regime must be maintained in all aspects, including the political," he said.

"I don't think the people of Myanmar should lose hope in the UN. The UN is doing the best it can," he went on.

"When I was working there, I was doing the best I could, but finally it is up to the government and the people of Myanmar to make all the necessary changes."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw


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