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More Dialogue Vital To Myanmar’s Political Future

Enhanced Dialogue Among All Parties Vital For Myanmar’s Political Future – Ban

New York, Oct 20 2008 4:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Myanmar’s Government and opposition to increase dialogue as the Asian country proceeds on the path toward national reconciliation and democratization, once again stressing the need for a credible and inclusive political process.

“The political challenges of any transition to democracy require negotiated political solutions,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report to the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

“As the country reaches a delicate juncture in its political development, there is no real alternative to a peaceful process of national reconciliation and now is the time for the Government and opposition alike to find ways to talk to each other and work together in the interest of the nation,” he says.

The report highlights development in Myanmar between 23 October 2007 and 5 September 2008, as well as the activities of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, who visited the country three times during that period.

Mr. Gambari had stated that the tangible results of his most recent visit in August “fell below our expectations,” but added that the UN “will not give up on working for national reconciliation, democracy and respect for human rights in Myanmar.”

The Secretary-General echoed Mr. Gambari’s views when he told reporters last month that Myanmar has not experienced the anticipated political progress and its Government should take real measures towards setting up a more inclusive political process that promotes human rights.

He expresses similar sentiments in his report when he writes that it remains “a source of frustration that meaningful steps have yet to be taken by the Myanmar Government in response to the concerns and expectations of the United Nations and the international community in the context of the good offices process.”

Myanmar’s authorities are in the process of preparing for general elections scheduled for 2010 – the next step in the seven-step road map for democracy outlined by the Government.

Mr. Ban underlines that the future of Myanmar ultimately rests with the Government and its people, and reiterates that the role of the UN is to ascertain the positions of all parties and facilitate their efforts to work together through dialogue towards a mutually acceptable process of national reconciliation and democratization.

Noting that there is no alternative to dialogue to ensure that all stakeholders can contribute to the future of their country, he stresses that the release of detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners will be key for the resumption of an enhanced, all-inclusive substantive and time-bound dialogue.

The release of all political prisoners, including Ms. Suu Kyi, as well as the need for an enhanced, substantive and time-bound dialogue between her and the Government, are among the key areas of concern for Mr. Gambari as he carries out the good offices role entrusted to him by the Assembly.

“The Secretary-General and his Special Adviser have therefore consistently emphasized that only a credible and inclusive political process — based on mutual understanding and compromise by all stakeholders — can help to advance the prospects of durable peace, national reconciliation, democracy and respect for human rights in Myanmar.

“In this regard, it is unfortunate that specific suggestions of the United Nations to improve the credibility and inclusiveness of the political process have thus far not been taken up by the Government,” states the report.

Mr. Ban adds that despite the Government’s efforts in implementing its road map process and addressing the challenges facing the country, the political situation in Myanmar has become “even more complex and challenging and potentially more polarized, drawing increased attention from the international community, including the Security Council."

The UN also remains concerned about ongoing reports of armed conflict and associated human rights abuses and humanitarian problems in ethnic minority areas, particularly in Kayin and Kayah states.

“Substantive talks leading to the sustainable cessation of hostilities between the Government and those armed ethnic groups still actively fighting need to be concluded, with a spirit of compromise on both sides,” he writes.


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