Saturday, October 16, 2010

Myanmar : Frustrating lack of engagement on eve of polls

UN - Declaring himself frustrated by the lack of engagement from the Myanmar authorities to ensure that the upcoming elections are “inclusive, credible, participatory and transparent,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is once again calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

“It is a source of disappointment that, despite our best efforts, Myanmar failed to utilize my good offices and engage meaningfully on issues of mutual interest and concern,” he tells the General Assembly in a report on the human rights situation in the South-East Asian country for the August 2009-August 2010 period.

“Myanmar’s lack of engagement is deeply frustrating, as it not only contradicts its stated policy of cooperation with the United Nations but also limits my ability to fully implement the mandate entrusted to me by the General Assembly,” he says, stressing that the elections, Myanmar’s first in 20 years and only the third multiparty poll in more than 60 years since independence, present a major test for the prospects of peace, democracy and prosperity.

He notes that since his last visit to Myanmar in July 2009, continuous efforts were made to engage the authorities but the Government has not extended an invitation to his Special Adviser, nor has it pursued further opportunities for meaningful dialogue among key stakeholders.

Since that visit there have been some signs of flexibility such as the release in September, 2009, of over 130 political prisoners as part of a broader amnesty.

“However, the detention of other political prisoners and the continued house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remain of grave concern,” he stresses.

“I strongly urge the Myanmar authorities, once again, to release, without delay, all the remaining political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, so that they can freely participate in the political life of their country. This will be the clearest signal of their commitment to a credible electoral process.”

He underscores the need for progress in overcoming Myanmar’s twin legacies of political deadlock and armed conflict. “Myanmar faces the longer-term challenges of reversing two generations of non-democratic rule as well as socio-economic stagnation,” he writes.

“Addressing the challenges of national reconciliation, democratization and respect for human rights remain essential responsibilities. In that regard, it is critical to pursue dialogue and cooperation among all stakeholders, as well as greater political, social and economic openness. In order to respond to the expectations of the people, it will be necessary to establish a credible civilian system and shift to greater pluralism and broad-based policymaking.”