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NLD Criticizes Gambari-Japan Joint-statement

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U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, right, talks with Japan’s Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone during their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Japan, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009.(AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, right, shakes hands with Japan’s Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone before their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Japan, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)


NLD Criticizes Gambari-Japan Joint-statement

By WAI MOE Friday, February 20, 2009

Ahead of the United Nations Security Council’s closed session on Burma on Friday, the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said it disagreed with a joint-statement by UN Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari and Japan’s foreign minister on Thursday.

Nyan Win, an NLD spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy, “The party issued two statements yesterday because we want to response to The United Nations Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari’s co-statement with Japan’s foreign minister in Tokyo on February 12.”

“As well, as we want to make a clarification on our stand on unconditional dialogue as well as NLD willingness for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s trip to the country,” he said.

The joint-statement issued by Gambari and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said they agreed to encourage the Burmese junta to hold general elections in 2010 in a form that could be accepted by the international community.

The NLD said it was concerned that the joint statement was not consistent with NLD demands as well as resolutions by the UN General Assembly which honor the 1990 election results.

In the joint-statement , Hirofumi Nakasone said, “Even though there are few positive moves by the Myanmar [Burma] government, it’s a huge step for them to have announced that they would hold a general election in 2010, compared with two past decades of silence about its democratization process.”

“If they [the junta] take favorable action, the international community should react in a manner that encourages more positive actions,” he said.

Japan is one of the main donor countries to Burma. Japan cut its assistance to Burma after the crackdown on demonstrators in September 2007. During the crackdown, Japanese videographer Kenji Nagai was killed by Burmese security forces. Japan has never applied economic sanctions against the Burmese junta, as have the United States and European countries.

In early 2006, Japan, along with China and Russian, rejected a proposal to take the Burma issue to the UN Security Council. Analysts say that Japan has sometimes worked to tone down criticism of Burma in the UN, because it wants to counter Beijing’s influence in the regime.

In its statement, the NLD also outlined three policy principles that it said were presented to Gambari when he met with the NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD officials during his most recent visit to Burma.

The first was the release of all political prisoners unconditionally. Human rights groups claim there are more than 2,100 political prisoners in Burma’s prisons.

The second was face-to-face dialogue between Suu Kyi and the junta’s leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, to resolve political problems in the country. The third was a review of the 2008 junta-backed-constitution.

The NLD has said it will not take part in the election unless their demands are met.

When Gambari asked what was the first NLD priority, the officials said it was the release of all political prisoners, according to the statement.

NLD sources have said that on Gambari’s visit to Burma in August 2008, the party met with him twice. In the first meeting, Gambari pushed the NLD to join the 2010 election. Party officials criticized his request, saying it went beyond his role as a mediator.

The United Nationalities Alliance, which represents ethnic parties in Burma, declared its support of the NLD on Friday, calling for the release of political prisoners, a political dialogue and opposition to the 2010 general election.

It urged the UN and the international community “to refrain from supporting the regime’s unilateral roadmap [to democracy] and planed election.”

Following Gambari’s recent four-day trip to Burma, the Karen National Union (KNU) issued a statement on Thursday.

“We are concerned that once again a United Nations envoy has visited Burma without also meeting with genuine representatives of Burma’s ethnic nationalities, such as the Karen National Union,” the statement said.

The KNU said ethnic people should not be sidelined in any future discussion on a national reconciliation process in Burma.

Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group |

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

February 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

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