Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meeting with Ban “Unsatisfactory”: NLD

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) said a meeting between the party leaders and UN chief Ban Ki-moon during his two-day trip to Burma was “unsatisfactory” because of the severe time limitation.

Win Naing, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that his party will release a statement on Thursday about the details of the meeting with Ban in Naypyidaw on July 3.

Four central committee executives of the NLD, Hla Pe, Soe Myint, Nyunt Wai and Than Tun, met with the UN general secretary in Burma’s new capital.

Win Naing said his party leaders were firstly allowed to meet and talk with Ban for only two minutes. The party leaders were then given ten minutes after they asked for more time.

“We are not satisfied with the time limit. We wanted to discuss current events far more and submit our proposals, but we had no choice,” said Win Naing.

During the meeting with Ban, the NLD’s executive members talked about the release of political prisoners, calls for dialogue and a review of the current constitution, said sources in Rangoon.

During his two-day visit, Ban also talked with Burma’s No 1, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, and urged him to release an estimated 2,100 political prisoners and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and embark on democratization ahead of multi-party elections scheduled for next year.

Ban also asked for a meeting with the detained opposition leader Suu Kyi. Than Shwe rejected his request, reasoning that the opposition leader was under trial.

Ban ended his visit to Burma on July 4 as Burmese observers were commenting that his trip had been “a failure” due to his failure to meet with Suu Kyi.

Before he left Rangoon, the UN general-secretary said he was "deeply disappointed" that junta chief Than Shwe had refused his requests to visit the detained pro-democracy leader.

Journalists in Rangoon, however, said that though Ban had been humiliated by junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe, his frank message to the generals would have irked them.

The NLD also stated that the failure of Ban’s trip was due to the Burmese generals’ unwillingness to move forward to democratization in Burma and not the efforts by the UN secretary general.

Win Naing said, “Ban Ki-moon tried his best. But, he failed to achieve what he wanted because of decisions by the Burmese government.”

“We recognize what the UN has tried to do for Burma, on the contrary,” he added.

Nyan Win, the main spokesperson for the NLD, also said that the failure was due to "a lack of willingness and genuine goodwill on the part of the government.”

Ban’s first trip to Burma was in May 2008 after Cyclone Nargis had slammed into Burma’s Irrawaddy and Rangoon Divisions. During his first trip, he eased the junta’s tight control over the inflow of international humanitarian aid to parts of the country affected by the cyclone.

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