Exclusion of political groups from Myanmar national convention concerns Annan

18 February 2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced his regret that the national convention in Myanmar reconvened Thursday without the participation of the National League for Democracy (NLD) – the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – and other political groups and called on the country's authorities to make the process more inclusive.

"While accepting that Myanmar faces complex and difficult challenges in its transition to democracy and its quest for national reconciliation, the Secretary-General believes that for a genuine process of national reconciliation to take root, the views of the NLD and other political parties, as well as the representatives of all the ethnic nationality ceasefire groups, must be sought and considered," the Secretary-General said in a statement issued by his spokesman.

It also expressed Mr. Annan's concern about the recent detention of several Shan leaders, including the President of the Shan State Peace Council (SSPC) and the Chairman of the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD).

The statement said it remained the Secretary-General's view that the National Convention, in its present format, did not adhere to the recommendations made by successive General Assembly resolutions. "He thus reiterates his call on the Myanmar authorities, even at this late stage, to take the necessary steps to make the roadmap process more inclusive and credible."

He also "encourages the authorities to ensure that the next phases of the roadmap – the drafting of the constitution and the holding of a national referendum – are transparent and inclusive," it added.

"It is his considered view that unless this poll adheres to internationally accepted standards of conduct and participation, it may be difficult for the international community, including the countries of the region, to endorse the result."

Through his spokesman, the Secretary-General appealed again to the Myanmar authorities "to resume without delay a substantive political dialogue with the representatives of all ethnic nationality groups and political leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to help achieve a genuine process of national reconciliation."

He reiterated the need for the remaining constraints on all political leaders to be lifted, NLD offices to be allowed to reopen and for political prisoners, including elected officials, to be released. Mr. Annan also renews his readiness to facilitate national reconciliation efforts among all parties concerned and to that end, urges the authorities to agree to a visit of his Special Envoy Razali Ismail, the statement said.


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