03/06/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Gambari’s third visit to Myanmar. Another failure?

The UN special envoy arrived in Burma for his third visit in the wake of the September crises. The diplomats agenda remains vague: it is not certain how long his visit will last or if he will be able to meet with top general Than Shwe.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The UN special envoy to Myanmar , Ibrahim Gambari, arrived today in the nation for what is his third visit since September last, when the military regime bloodily quashed anti-government protests led by Buddhist monks.  This will be his first opportunity to hold face to face meetings with the leaders of the military junta since their announcement of a referendum in May on a draft Constitution. The democratic opposition, which did not take part in drawing up the draft, have called the initiative “shameful”.

The agenda of the UN mission has yet to be defined.  The envoy will stay in Burma “as long as necessary” – that is at least until Sunday – and it is still unclear whether he will meet with top junta leaders. In his last visit, junta leader Than Shwe refused to meet him.  Gambari in theory should invite members of the military rulers to involve opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and democratic party in the election process. There is however little hope that the generals will make concessions for the Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi, whom they have kept under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

For Burma experts and the local population, the “angle of hope” Gambari - appointed in 2006 – now risks becoming the latest in a series of diplomats to be out manoeuvred by the “astute generals”. “In the last six months – exiled dissidents note – not only have his requests been ignored, but he has also given the junta time to consolidate its power”.

 

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