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UN envoy urges South-East Asian nations to move beyond words on Myanmar

UN envoy urges South-East Asian nations to move beyond words on Myanmar

Ibrahim Gambari
The United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar today called on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to go beyond speaking out against the recent use of force in the country and do more to hasten the process of democratization.

“We’ve appreciated very much the very strong statement coming out of ASEAN, but now is the time to work together so that the good offices role of the Secretary-General will deliver concrete results,” Ibrahim Gambari told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Gambari, who was dispatched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week to meet with Myanmar’s regional partners about the situation in the troubled Asian nation, arrived in Malaysia following talks with officials in Thailand.

The support of ASEAN and other neighbouring countries to the UN’s efforts to address the crisis in Myanmar was the main subject of discussions between the Special Envoy and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during their meeting this morning in the country’s administrative capital, Putrajaya.

Mr. Gambari stressed that the Secretary-General is “absolutely committed to working with the Government of Myanmar, with neighbouring countries [and] with ASEAN so that together we can achieve this goal of a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Myanmar that is a positive influence on its neighbours, and also with full respect for the human rights of its own people.”

“We feel that all those who have influence should use it; all those who can help should help,” Mr. Gambari stated, adding “that is why ASEAN is important.”

He said the main obstacle in resolving the current crisis is the lack of dialogue between the Government and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others. Noting the Government’s recent appointment of a liaison officer tasked with starting dialogue with the opposition, Mr. Gambari stressed the need to begin such a dialogue “without any further delay.”

Mr. Gambari is now in Jakarta where he is scheduled to meet Indonesia’s President and Foreign Minister tomorrow. From there, he is expected to move on to India, China and finally to Japan.

Back at UN Headquarters, the Secretary-General strongly urged Myanmar authorities to fully implement the seven-point road map for democratization, adding that the way the authorities have treated the demonstrators was “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

“The Myanmar authorities should think about the future of their country and of their people, reflecting and respecting all the wishes of the international community,” Mr. Ban said in comments to the press yesterday.