Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the important role of South-East Asian nations in encouraging Myanmar to do what is in the best interests of its people and of the wider region.
Addressing a gathering at UN Headquarters of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mr. Ban said Myanmar has an opportunity to demonstrate to its people and to the international community its clear commitment to an inclusive political transition.
“It is an opportunity Myanmar should not miss,” Mr. Ban said, adding that ASEAN countries have an important role to play in this effort – first and foremost to ensure the well-being of the people of Myanmar, but also in the wider interest of peace and security in the region.
In a report released this week, Mr. Ban voiced disappointment and concern that meaningful steps have yet to be taken by the Myanmar Government following the recent visit by his Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari, and called the house arrest of opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi “a serious setback to the prospects of genuine national reconciliation, democratic transition and the rule of law.”
He told ASEAN leaders that it is important that Myanmar responds to the concerns of the international community in a timely and concrete manner.
“The recent release of a number of political prisoners as part of the larger amnesty announced last week, while a step in the right direction, falls short of expectations,” he stated.
“Our collective interest is to find ways to encourage Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners, start a genuine political dialogue and create conditions conducive to credible elections.”
In addition, he stated that next year’s election – the first in two decades – must be held in an inclusive and credible manner if they are to advance stability, democracy, reconciliation, national development and respect for human rights.
“The international community must send a strong, unified message,” he stated.
Mr. Ban made a similar call earlier in the week when he convened a meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar, comprising 14 countries and the European Union.
Participants at today’s meeting had a “productive, frank and wide-ranging exchange of views” on a range of issues of common concern, according to a joint press statement issued after the gathering.
“The meeting stressed the importance of nurturing an effective partnership between ASEAN and the UN that will help both organizations address effectively the challenges affecting Southeast Asia and the world.”