Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ban Ki-moon talks of ‘a major lost opportunity’ for Burma

(DVB)–The UN chief yesterday briefed the Security Council on what had been “a major lost opportunity” for the Burmese junta to commit to terms set out by him on a recent visit that would kick-start democratic reform.

Ban Ki-moon delivered the verdict to Security Council members in New York following his two-day trip to Burma earlier this month, in which he came away with few concessions from an unwavering military government.

Reporting back on the visit, he said his three principal expectations, which included the release of all political prisoners and calls for free and fair elections next year, were “conveyed in the clearest terms”.

“The choice for Myanmar’s [Burma] leaders in the coming days and weeks will be between meeting that responsibility in the interest of all concerned, or failing their own people and each one of you,” he said.

Although the speech was littered with suggestions on what steps the Burmese government should take in order to meet the UN’s demands, it remains unclear what action will now be taken by the UN the apply pressure on the regime.

Spokesperson for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Nyan Win, said that current diplomatic efforts by the UN were “bearing no fruit”.

“We expect the UN Security Council, those who have the authority, to come out with a decision in unison and be able to adopt a binding resolution [on Burma],” he said.

During the briefing, Burma’s ambassador to the UN, Than Swe, said that “the utmost had been done” to accommodate Ban Ki-moon’s requests.

He also said that the Burmese government “is processing to grant amnesty to prisoners on humanitarian grounds and with a view to enabling them to participate in the 2010 general elections."

It was not, however, explicitly stated however that the prisoner amnesty would include political prisoners.

The exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma’s (NCGUB) ambassador to the UN said the Burma should not rely wholeheartedly on pressure form the UN.

“The UN will do what they need to do but its role in bringing change [to Burma] is only a part of the whole process – more relies on activity from inside the country,” said Dr Thaung Htun.

“We have to fight for our own rights. We have to keep this in our minds and work on what we need to do individually or as a group.”

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw and Francis Wade

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