UN envoy fails to change Myanmar junta’s stance (Lead)

February 3rd, 2009 - 10:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, Feb 3 (DPA) UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari left Myanmar Tuesday after failing to persuade the country’s junta to alter its set roadmap to “discipline flourishing democracy”.Gambari departed on a Silk Air flight to Singapore Tuesday evening. He was scheduled to fly Tuesday to Naypyitaw, the military’s headquarters 350 km north of Yangon, but cancelled the trip after Myanmar Prime Minister General Thein Sein agreed to meet him in Yangon instead, Myanmar television reported.

The meeting was kept secret until Myanmar TV announced the outcome in an 8 p.m. broadcast.

In his talks with Gambari, Thein Sein turned down the demands of the Myanmar opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi for preconditions to assure significant political changes before a planned election in 2010.

On Monday Suu Kyi and top leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) Party set four preconditions for national reconciliation including the freeing of all political prisoners, a committee to review the military-drafted constitution, convening of parliament and starting a political dialogue with the junta.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 20 years.

The NLD has rejected the 2008 constitution, that was forced through in a national referendum that was neither free nor fair, on the grounds that it will cement military dominance in a post-election Myanmar.

“The constitution has been approved by the majority of the people so the government has to fulfill their desires,” Thein Sein told Gambari, according to Myanmar TV.

The prime minister added that the government will allow the “minority of the people” a chance to participate in the political process by passing party registration regulations and an election law soon.

“The government has opened a door, so they should use that door,” Thein Sein said.

The NLD has not yet announced their position on entering the 2010 election but they have rejected the constitution in its current state, as it will allow the military control over any elected government through appointees to the upper and lower houses.

The NLD won Myanmar’s last election of 1990 by a landslide, but has been denied power for the past 19 years.

For the second time, Gambari was denied a meeting with Myanmar’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe.

Gambari had better luck with Suu Kyi, who met the UN envoy Monday along with five senior leaders of her National League for Democracy opposition party.

The demands they conveyed to Gambari probably irked Than Shwe, government sources speculated.

Gambari, who arrived in Yangon Saturday, was in Myanmar to push for a solution to the country’s political stalemate.

Informed sources said Gambari’s trip was designed to test the waters for a potential visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Thein Sein told Gambari that the junta would consider allowing Ban permission to visit.

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