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March 6, 2008

UN-MYANMAR/POLITICS
Envoy makes third attempt for reforms

For the third time in less than a year, the United Nations diplomat Ibrahim Gambari traveling to Burma, or Myanmar, Thursday (March 6), hoping to persuade the military junta to start democratic reforms.

Gambari visited several Asian countries, including China, the junta’s key supporter, asking them to help his mission and urge the junta to restore democracy and begin reconciliation talks with the opposition. Gambari also leaders of Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.

In a statement, the UN said, Gambari hopes to stay as long as necessary in Myanmar and to meet with all the groups he was not able to see during his last visit. His itinerary, it said, was still under discussion with the junta, though.

Gambari didn’t have a chance to meet Senior General Than Shwe, the junta leader, during his last visit in November. Gambari’s proposal for a three-way meeting – the junta, detained pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and himself has been rejected.

Recently, Gambari was quoted as saying he was "frustrated" at the lack of tangible results from his visits to Myanmar.


His latest visit follows the junta's announcement last month that it would hold a referendum on a draft constitution in May and will hold general elections in 2010 - the first specific dates for its so-called "roadmap to democracy," reported the Associated Press.

Guidelines used to write the draft constitution effectively bar Suu Kyi from holding national office because she was married to a foreigner - her late British husband, Michael Aris - and enjoyed the privileges of a foreign national.


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