Myanmar should take ‘bold steps’ to address national crisis – UN envoy

18 December 2007

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar has urged authorities in the South-East Asian country to take bold action to press ahead with an all-inclusive national reconciliation process.

Speaking to reporters in New York after briefing the General Assembly, Ibrahim Gambari emphasized that it is very important for Myanmar not to go backwards or stay still but to move forward and take “very bold steps” to address the concerns of the international community.

Mr. Gambari, who has visited Myanmar twice since the Government used force to crack down on peaceful protesters just a few months ago, stressed that the goal is an all-inclusive reconciliation process, as well as “a stable, prosperous, democratic Myanmar with full respect for the human rights of its people.”

As for specific steps the authorities should take, he cited the need for a time-bound and substantive dialogue between the Government and detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Once again calling for Ms. Suu Kyi’s release, he added that she should be allowed to meet with members of her party’s executive committee.

It is also necessary for the constitutional drafting process to be opened up so that those who are excluded from, or decided not to participate in, the current process can do so before the constitution is finally drafted, Mr. Gambari stated.

In addition, he urged the authorities to address the underlying socio-economic grievances of the people of Myanmar, adding that that was why the UN had proposed the establishment of a broad-based poverty alleviation commission to look into the root causes of discontent and address them.

The Special Adviser once again stressed that all detainees should be released since “it would be counter-productive not to release them or to arrest new people because the process of national reconciliation in an all-inclusive manner will not be served.”

He said he had been informed that some detainees had been released, including some monks, as recently as yesterday.

While a date for Mr. Gambari’s return to Myanmar is still being decided, he said he expected to be back in the country by next month.

Just last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Myanmar’s authorities to step up their efforts towards democratization and the full respect of human rights, noting that the international community’s patience with the troubled nation is wearing thin.

 

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