Burma faces critical challenges: Ban

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(Mizzima) – The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today told reporters in New York that Burma faces critical short and long challenges and the United Nations will continue help realise the aspirations of Burmese people.

He was speaking at the UN building after the closed door meeting of the “Group of Friends on Myanmar” that discussed the country’s recently announced electoral laws by the junta.

He said the member countries in the group stressed the need for this year’s election “to be inclusive, participatory and transparent in order to advance the prospects of stability, democracy and development” for the people.

“We encourage all parties to work in the national interest.  The government must create conditions that give all stakeholders the opportunity to participate freely in elections.  This includes the release of all political prisoners – including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — and respect for fundamental freedoms,” Ban said.

He also reiterated his earlier statement that the announced electoral laws so far do not meet what is needed for an inclusive political process.

The Group of Friends on Myanmar, founded in December 2007, comprises 14 countries including Burma’s neighbours and one regional bloc. They are Australia, China, the European Union, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

Today’s meeting also stressed the need to work for a better standard of living for people in Burma, Ban told reporters.

He also added that member countries are disappointed that there has not been progress for the country’s national reconciliation process.

“This reflects our view that Myanmar’s political, humanitarian and development challenges should be addressed in parallel and with equal attention.”

Detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that she cannot accept the “unjust” electoral laws of the Burmese junta. The laws that were announced in the second week of March bars anyone who is serving a prison sentence to be a member of a political party, to form a party or to contest the elections.

Moreover, the laws are entirely based on the 2008 constitution that has been widely ciriticised both at home and abroad as constitunalising the military’s leading role in country’s politics. It prevents any action to be taken against the military leaders for their human rights violations.

Some individuals and political groups have already announced their intention to participate in the election and they see the election as an opening to gradual transition from military dictatorship to democracy. The National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the main political force that swept the 1990 elections, is likely to decide on whether to contest the elections or not at the end of this month. The party will be outlawed if it decides not to contest this election, the first in 20 years.

Earlier, the UN Security Council also met to discuss Burma but ended without any resolution. China’s representative defended Burma’s right to have its electoral laws as a sovereign nation at the meeting.

Meanwhile, a rights group, the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, has welcomed the decision of the British government to support the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Burmese junta.

Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyell Grant, said yesterday that Britain would support the referral of a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Tomas Quintana , UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, in his report to United Nations Human Rights Commission earlier this month in Geneva has recommended for the establishment of a commission of inquiry. Australia also supported the move.

 

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