Recent developments bode well for progress in Myanmar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, while calling on the new Government to do more to ensure to bring about an inclusive transition.
A new Government was established in the South-East Asian nation six months ago, and more recently the country has received a series of high-level bilateral visits. In addition, President Thein Sein has made a pledge for Myanmar to “catch up with the changing world.”
“Real opportunities for progress exist, but the Government must step up its efforts for reform if it is to bring about an inclusive – and irreversible – transition,” Mr. Ban said in a press statement issued after the ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar, which was held at UN Headquarters on the margins of the 66th session of the General Assembly.
“In particular, the authorities must cultivate improved dialogue with all political actors and release all remaining political prisoners,” he said.
Mr. Ban said change is not only possible, but necessary, adding that the international community has a responsibility to support Myanmar’s change.
Formed in 2007, the Group of more than a dozen nations and regional blocs is designed to serve as a consultative forum for developing a shared approach in support of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate on Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s Foreign Minister told the Assembly’s high-level debate today that the Government has launched a series of political, economic and social reforms aimed at improving the welfare of its people, but voiced regret that these efforts are being hampered by international economic sanctions.
Wunna Maung Lwin said that States that imposed unilateral sanctions against Myanmar should lift them now that it has “emerged as a new democratic nation in accordance with the constitution approved by the overwhelming majority of the people.”
He stated that Myanmar attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights, and that fundamental rights are guaranteed by the “relevant provisions of the constitution.”
As a gesture of “national reconsolidation,” the Government had last month offered an olive branch to all “national race armed groups,” Mr. Lwin said, adding that some of the groups had accepted the reconciliation offer.
He also highlighted what he said was the granting of an amnesty to 20,000 prisoners by Mr. Sein in May and that all of them had been released by the end of July.
“The President in exercising the mandate vested upon him by the constitution will further grant an amnesty at an appropriate time in the near future.”
The Government is also reaching out to the international community, Mr. Lwin said, pointing out that Myanmar had received visits by heads of State and high-level delegations from regional and international organisations over the past five months. The President also made official visits to Indonesia and China.