UN envoy awaits 'tangible' outcomes from latest Myanmar visit

Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari

20 February 2009 – The United Nations envoy for Myanmar told the Security Council today his latest visit to the South-East Asian nation, the fifth in the past year and a half, has not yet yielded any concrete results.

“I informed the Council that, so far, we have not seen tangible outcomes of my visit,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari told reporters after a closed-door briefing to the 15-member body.

“But there seems to be some movement in that direction,” added the envoy, who was in Myanmar most recently from 31 January to 3 February as part of the good offices mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly.

During the visit, Mr. Gambari met with Government officials such as Prime Minister Thein Sein, as well as opposition and other political parties, including detained pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD).

“As I told the Government, now is the time to demonstrate Myanmar's commitment to addressing concretely the issues of concern to the international community, particularly the release of political prisoners and the resumption of dialogue between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” Mr. Gambari stated.

The Myanmar Government has reportedly announced today it will free some 6,000 prisoners beginning tomorrow. Mr. Gambari said he has not received any official communication on this from the authorities and is waiting to see who is among those that will be released.

“At the same time, I believe it's fair to welcome the release of prisoners, particularly political prisoners,” he noted.

Last year the Government said it will hold multi-party elections in 2010. Both Mr. Ban and his Special Adviser have repeatedly said it is in Myanmar's interest to ensure that the elections are as credible and inclusive as possible and to engage without delay in dialogue with Ms. Suu Kyi.

“Our position has not changed. We're not advocating elections in 2010 or any time. It is up to the Government and people of Myanmar to decide but we continue to advocate conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections when they do take place,” said Mr. Gambari.


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