Alexa

UN envoy extends visit to Myanmar

UN envoy extends visit to Myanmar

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, hoping to promote democratic reform in Myanmar, will extend his five-day visit until Saturday in an apparent effort to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi failed to appear at a scheduled meeting Wednesday amid speculation that she may be dissatisfied with the United Nations' hitherto fruitless efforts to affect change in the military-ruled nation.
Gambari's five earlier visits beginning in mid-2006 failed to forge either a dialogue between Suu Kyi and the military or secure her release from more than 12 years under house arrest. Gambari usually met Suu Kyi on previous trips.
A government official, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said that Gambari would depart Myanmar on Saturday rather than Friday as originally scheduled.
Two Gambari aides were seen by neighbors outside the gate of Suu Kyi's residence Friday morning, trying to get her attention. They left when nobody came out to meet them.
Gambari and Suu Kyi were to have met Wednesday at a guest house but the Nobel Peace Prize laureate did not come. Neither the U.N. nor the government have said anything about the aborted meeting.
"We don't really know the reason why she did not meet Mr. Gambari. But we knew that she was unhappy with the situation," said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
"She sets a time limit for everything and she may be unhappy with something," he said, without elaborating.
Gambari met Friday for more than an hour with the five other executive members of Suu Kyi's party. Nyan Win, who was not present at the meeting, said they discussed the issue of Myanmar's political prisoners. But he declined to give further details, saying the talks were not yet complete.
According to Nyan Win, Gambari held a 20-minute meeting with the party leaders on Wednesday at which he explained the purpose of his mission, including preparing for a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December to hold talks on the country's political problems.
The party executives told him that they regarded May's referendum that approved a new military-backed constitution as unfree and unfair, and under the circumstances suggested that the U.N. not discuss a general election the ruling junta has scheduled for 2010.
While allowing Gambari and other U.N. officials into the country, the junta says it will follow its own so-called "road map to democracy," which guarantees the military will maintain its grip on power.
Various U.N. efforts to promote dialogue between the junta and the opposition have come to naught after initial speculation that they have represented breakthroughs in the country's political deadlock.