Tuesday, July 14, 2009

US, Britain and France Doubt Credible Election; China Calls for Lifting Sanctions

The Irrawaddy News

WASHINGTON — Three permanent members of United Nations Security Council—the United States, Britain and France—expressed skepticism that the Burmese junta will hold free, fair and credible general elections in 2010, while urging the military rulers to match their words with deeds.

China, on the other hand, which has been a strong supporter of the totalitarian Burmese rulers both inside and outside the Security Council, urged Western countries including the US, Britain and France to lift their economic sanctions on Burma.

“Now is the time for Burma to match its words with deeds,” said Rosemary A DiCarlo, the US alternate representative for special political affairs, following a Security Council briefing on Burma by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New York.

DiCarlo expressed US disappointment that the Burmese authorities refused Ban’s request to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

“By turning down this simple, straightforward request, the Burmese government missed a critical opportunity to, in your words, ‘show its commitment to a new era of political openness,’” she said.

Calling on the Burmese regime to free Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally, she said the junta is clearly not respecting the popular will by putting the leader of the country’s democratic opposition on trial for spurious charges of violating her house arrest, which itself was illegitimate. “We are deeply concerned about these proceedings,” she said.

British Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham said Ban’s visit was an opportunity for the junta to transform its relationship with the international community which stands ready to respond positively to real progress.

“The regime’s failure to take this opportunity has only served to isolate it further. We can only hope that we may yet see progress in the coming days; it is not too late. But if it does not come, and if we see an unjust outcome in Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, the international community will need to follow the secretary-general’s lead and respond robustly,” Parham said. “The onus is on the government to act.”

He said the generals heard the strong message the secretary-general delivered in Rangoon when he addressed ministers and the diplomatic and NGO communities.

“They can be in no doubt about his disappointment and the disappointment of the international community as a whole,” Parham said.

France called for stronger actions by the Security Council.

“The current impasse is no reason for the international community to do nothing. The council must respond firmly if she [Suu Kyi] is found guilty, but inaction must not be the price of its unity,” said Jean-Maurice Ripert of France.

Far from initiating a dialogue with political parties and ethnic groups, Ripert said the junta has unilaterally implemented a “road map” to democracy which had led to increased polarization.

In defense of the junta, Chinese Deputy Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said Ban’s failure to meet with Suu Kyi should not be the criterion to judge the success of the visit.

“Gen Than Shwe had not made arrangements for the secretary-general to meet with her, and the United Nations must respect that decision by a member state. During his visit, the secretary-general had held in-depth dialogues with top leaders and that would play an important role in encouraging the democratic process,” he said.

Liu said that Ban’s visit had been significant and its positive outcome deserved to be assessed fairly by the international community.

He said Burma’s problems could not be addressed in a Western manner, the junta should steadily reform and the international community should fairly assess the country’s challenges. ( JEG's: so the international community must be fair with the crims...)

He called for lifting the international sanctions against Burma, a necessary step for economic development. ( JEG's: magic words "economic development" the only concern of China, and for who's benefit will the lifting of sanctions be?, China and the Generals' pockets of course)

“Events occurring inside Myanmar [Burma] are internal affairs that should be handled by the government, as they posed no threat to international peace and security. China is against isolating and sanctioning Myanmar and its position in that regard remained unchanged,” Liu said. (JEG's: and when the Dalai Lama wants to visit us, then it becomes China's affairs who we invite for tea...)

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