UN chief of staff visits Myanmar for political assessment

Friday, November 26, 2010

YANGON - The chief of staff of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived Saturday in military-ruled Myanmar to assess the country’s post-election political climate on a three-day trip, which was to include talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Vijay Nambiar was scheduled to meet first with Foreign Minister Kyaw Hsan, after which he was to talk with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi and leaders of other political parties, Suu Kyi’s close aide Nyan Win said.

He was scheduled to leave Monday.

Nambiar, who is also Ban’s special envoy on Myanmar affairs, would be the first senior UN official to meet with Suu Kyi since her release Nov 13 from her latest term of house detention, which lasted seven years.

Ban and Western democracies had been demanding the release of Suu Kyi and 2,100 other political prisoners languishing in Myanmar jails for years.

Her release came a week after Myanmar held a general election for the first time in two decades.

The ballot was won by the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party, but the military-staged exercise has been widely criticised by Western democracies as a sham.

Observers said they believe Suu Kyi’s release was designed to deflect international criticism from the fraudulent polls and calm public outrage in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party was effectively excluded from the election by regulations imposed by the military shortly before the vote.

Myanmar has been under military dictatorships since 1962. The previous general election of 1990 was won by the NLD, but its elected lawmakers were blocked from assuming power by the ruling junta.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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