UN, US ‘Respect’ NLD Decision

(Irrawaddy) The United States and the United Nations on Monday said that they respect the decision taken by Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), not to participate in a general election

this year.

Referring to a statement made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week, his spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that the international community would need to respect any decision that was taken by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party with regard to the election. 

“But clearly, what he [Ban] has also said is that, if the election is to be considered credible and fair, it needs to be as inclusive as possible,” the spokesman said. The UN secretary-general expressed his concerns and expectations in this regard last week when he convened the Group of Friends on Myanmar [Burma], he added.

At the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the US State Department, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley said the Obama administration respects the NLD’s decision.

“That was a decision for the NLD to make, and we think it’s regrettable that this is a reflection of the unwillingness of the government in Burma to take what we thought were the necessary steps to open up the political process and to engage in serious dialogue with not only key figures like Aung San Suu Kyi, her political movement, others, as well as the various ethnic groups that want to have a say in Burma’s future,” Crowley said in response to a question.

Last year, the US government adopted a new policy of simultaneous engagement and sanctions on the military regime, following which it had two rounds of discussions with the Burmese junta to date.

“We offered our views on that,” Crowley said. “We think it is inadequate and disappointing. I’m not aware that we’ve had further direct discussions with Burma since then. I wouldn’t rule those out in the future. But we obviously think that the electoral law, as it was announced by Burma, is not the right way to go,” he said.

The US State Department official said the Obama administration believes that this is an opportunity lost in terms of Burma’s ability to demonstrate that it is willing to contemplate a different course of action on a different relationship with its own people and other groups within its borders.

“That will remain our view and that will be something that we will be talking to Burma about, and we’ll deliver that clear message when it’s appropriate,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based US Campaign for Burma, a leading coalition of Burmese activists in exile and American human rights campaigners, on Monday announced it supports the NLD decision to boycott the election.

“This is a courageous call by the NLD leaders and I am very proud of them,” said Aung Din, the executive director of the US Campaign for Burma. “They all choose to continue to stand together with Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, as well as the people of Burma by rejecting the regime’s sham election. They made history,” he added.

 

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