Thursday, 17 July 2008

Junta invites Gambari in August

Mizzima News

New Delhi – The Burmese military junta has extended an invitation to Ibrahim Gambari, UN Special envoy to Burma, to visit the country in mid-August. The visit has to do with resuming talks with the regime and the opposition, a UN spokesperson said on Tuesday.

UN spokeswoman, Marie Okabe on Tuesday said Burma's military government has sent an invitation to Gambari to visit the country next month.

Gambari was initially supposed to visit Burma in May but the junta postponed it as the country was reeling under the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis, which lashed Burma on May 2 and 3, leaving more than 138,000 dead and missing.

The Nigerian diplomat has visited the Southeast Asian country thrice in the wake of the junta brutally cracking down on peaceful protesters in September 2007.

Gambari's visit is part of the UN's untiring efforts to bring about a dialogue between the military regime and opposition groups represented by detained Burmese democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari, who took over from the former UN special envoy Razali Ismail, has so far been able to facilitate talks between the junta's Liaison Minister and Aung San Suu Kyi. But critics say the talks had not yielded any tangible result.

Despite the UN's efforts, the Burmese military junta did not alter its plan and continued with its seven-step 'Roadmap to Democracy' without the participation of the opposition groups as well as representatives ethnic nationalities.

The UN has urged Burma's military rulers to expand its roadmap plans and make it inclusive to allow participation of the opposition parties and ethnic nationalities.

But turning a deaf ear to the UN and the international community's pressure, the junta in May conducted a referendum on a draft constitution, drafted solely by it and the regime's handpicked delegates.

The junta also announced that it will hold general elections in 2010 and form a multi-party democratic government.

The opposition groups and ethnic leaders have said they disagree with the junta's plan and called on the international community as well as the UN not to recognize the junta's roadmap and reject the referendum.

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