Security Council urges inclusive and credible Myanmar referendum, elections

2 May 2008 – The Security Council today stressed the need for the upcoming referendum and elections in Myanmar to include the full participation of all political actors and respect for fundamental political freedoms.

In February authorities in the South-East Asian nation announced that a draft constitution will be put to voters in a national referendum in May, ahead of multi-party elections scheduled for 2010.

The Council underlined the need for the Government of Myanmar “to establish the conditions and create an atmosphere conducive to an inclusive and credible process,” in a statement read out by Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council's rotating presidency for May.

“It further notes the commitment by the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the referendum process will be free and fair,” the statement added.

The Council also expressed its appreciation for the work of the Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, who has visited the country three times since last summer's crackdown by the authorities on peaceful protesters, and is spearheading UN efforts to promote democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar.

Mr. Gambari recently stated that it is in Myanmar's interest to ensure that its upcoming referendum and elections are as credible and inclusive as possible and to engage without delay in dialogue with the detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr. Sawers later told reporters that although today's statement does not refer to Ms. Suu Kyi, it does reaffirm previous statements by the Council in which it mentions the need for Myanmar's authorities to engage in a genuine dialogue with her and all concerned parties.

Briefing the press on the Council's work for the month, he noted that the “centrepiece” of the UK presidency will be an open debate on post-conflict peacebuilding, to be chaired by Foreign Secretary David Miliband on 20 May.

“In the period immediately after peace agreement is achieved, there isn't sufficient change in the lives of ordinary people, there's not a re-establishment of security and far too many countries after conflict lapse back into conflict within five years of a peace agreement being reached,” he stated. “That's partly because the international community does not have the capacity to quickly implement and follow through on peace agreements when they are reached.”

Mr. Sawers added that Council members will embark on 31 May for a 10-day visit to Africa, with scheduled stops in Kenya, Sudan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Côte d'Ivoire.


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