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Myanmar junta yet to respond to UN chief's request to see Suu Kyi
head of Myanmar's ruling military had stalled on United Nation’s
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to see Aung San Suu Kyi,
leaving his mission to seek the democracy icon's release at risk of
ending in failure, AFP quoted the UN chief as saying Friday.
said military chief Than Shwe had not yet given him permission to see
the 64-year-old opposition icon but added that he awaited a final reply
before his "very tough" two-day visit ends on Saturday.
secretary general flew to Naypyidaw, the government's remote
stronghold, shortly after a prison court again adjourned the widely
condemned trial of Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of violating her house
"I told him that I wanted to meet her in person. He
told me that she is on trial but I told him this is my proposal, this
is important and I am waiting for their consideration and reply," Ban
told reporters after the talks.
"I am leaving tomorrow, so logically speaking I am waiting for a reply before my departure," he added.
Shwe appeared in his olive green military uniform at the start of the
two-hour meeting in an ornate marble-floored reception hall, but did
Ban said he had also sought the release of more
than 2,000 political prisoners that the UN says are held in Myanmar --
including Aung San Suu Kyi -- ahead of elections promised by the ruling
generals for 2010.
"I proposed and I urged that all political
prisoners should be released before this election begins, so that this
election can be all inclusive," Ban said.
The 64-year-old Aung
San Suu Kyi was transferred from house arrest to Yangon's notorious
Insein prison in May on charges of violating her house arrest, after an
American man swam uninvited to her lakeside house.
been in detention for most of the past two decades since the military
refused to recognise her party's victory in the country's last
elections in 1990, and now faces five years' imprisonment if convicted.
Rights groups warn that the trip will be a "huge failure" if
Ban does not secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Critics have
accused the military of using the trial to keep her locked up for the
Ban said that during the meeting with Than Shwe, "I
was assured that the Myanmar authorities will make sure that elections
will be held in a fair, free and transparent manner".
Suu Kyi appeared in court in Yangon on Friday but the trial was
adjourned for a week because the judges had not received an earlier
judgement barring two defence witnesses, her National League for
Democracy (NLD) said.
"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended the trial
this morning but the court said that as they haven't got the case from
the Supreme Court, the trial is suspended to July 10," NLD spokesman
Nyan Win said.
The case has sparked international outrage,
with US President Barack Obama calling it a "show trial" and a host of
world leaders and celebrities calling for her release.
faced recent criticism for his softly-softly approach to the job of
secretary general, but diplomats say he hopes his quiet brand of
diplomacy will pay dividends with Myanmar's generals.
visit is Ban's first to Myanmar since he persuaded the military
government to accept international aid following Cyclone Nargis in May
2008, which killed around 138,000 people.
Human Rights Watch
said on Thursday that Ban should not accept the apparent concession
from the government of returning her to house arrest, instead of
imprisoning her, as a sign of a successful visit.
again, the UN has politely requested Aung San Suu Kyi's release, but
her 'release' back to house arrest would be a huge failure," said
Kenneth Roth, New York-based HRW's executive director.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962.
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