UN special envoy meets Aung San Suu Kyi

March 8th, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by admin  

Yangon, March 8 (DPA) UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari met Saturday with Myanmar’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi whom the ruling junta has effectively blocked from contesting the country’s 2010 polls. Gambari, who arrived in Myanmar Thursday on a mission to persuade the ruling regime to include Suu Kyi more in the reconciliation process, met the Nobel peace prize laureate and other executives of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party for about one and a half hours.

The details of the meeting were not immediately known, but Myanmar’s leaders have already made clear to Gambari that they would not allow Suu Kyi to contest a general election planned in 2010.

The NLD, led by Suu Kyi, won the 1990 polls but has been denied power for the past 18 years.

According to state-media reports, Myanmar Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan told Gambari Friday that it had rejected a request by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the regime amend the new constitution to “ensure inclusiveness”.

“The constitution has already been drafted and it should not be amended again,” Kyaw Hsan said.

In a letter dated Feb 19 to Myanmar’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe, the UN secretary general called for an amendment to the current draft constitution that would drop a clause excluding all Myanmar nationals married to foreigners from running for election.

Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May 2003, was married to the late Michael Aris, a British professor at Oxford University.

The new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, will be voted on in a referendum in May.

It is widely expected that the constitution will be approved by the referendum, which is expected to be manipulated.

The referendum is part of the regime’s so-called “seven-step road map” to democracy that will culminate in a general election now scheduled in 2010.

Critics have faulted the constitution-drafting process for failing to include input from the NLD and other opponents to the regime, leading the UN to call the document a “sham”.

Kyaw Hsan faulted the UN for being biased against the regime, which only in September cracked down on anti-military protests led by Buddhist monks, leaving at least 31 people led.

He also criticized Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, for turning down the regime’s request that she openly oppose Western sanctions on Myanmar as a precondition for holding talks with her.

“Although we have opened the door for a ‘win-win’ situation, the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi are refusing to join hands,” Kyaw Hsan said.

He urged the visiting envoy to support the junta’s “seven step” road map and stop pursuing alternatives suggested by Western democracies.

“We shall not accept any attempt to hinder or reverse the process of the seven-step road map. However, we will heartily welcome the positive suggestions of the UN to help implement the seven-step road map,” Kyaw Hsan concluded.

Gambari reportedly promised to pass on the minister’s “clarification” to the UN secretary general.

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