No Concrete Results for Gambari
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

No Concrete Results for Gambari

By WAI MOE Tuesday, February 3, 2009


United Nations Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari on Tuesday concluded his seventh official visit to Burma after a meeting with Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein in Rangoon. However, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman Nyan Win said that there had been no developments during the envoy's visit.

"During our meeting with Mr Gambari, the NLD made a stand and he listened carefully to what we said. However, we have not received a response to our demands. So far, we cannot see any developments from this trip."

UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari (2nd L) meets senior leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy party at the state guesthouse in Rangoon on February 2. Pictured are (L-R): Personal assistant to Gambari, Gambari, NLD Central Executive Committee member U Than Tun, CEC member U Soe Myint, NLD Chairman U Aung Shwe, CEC member U Hla Pe, CEC member U Nyunt Wai and Aung San Suu Kyi. (Photo: Reuters/ MNA)
Aye Win, an official with the UN Information Centre in Rangoon, said on Tuesday that the Nigerian diplomat left Burma at about 4:30 p.m. local time. He added that Gambari had not flown to the Burmese regime's new capital, Naypyidaw, nor met with other high-ranking generals or junta head Snr-Gen Than Shwe.

“Today Mr Gambari met with Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein at 2 p.m. for about one hour,” he said on Tuesday. “The envoy also sat again with the government’s 'spokes authoritative team' today.”

Aye Win said Gambari was able to meet all the persons who were on his itinerary before the trip.

He said Gambari also held meetings on Tuesday with pro-junta political groups, such as the so-called "88 Generation Students and Youth (Union of Myanmar)" group and the Wintharnu NLD, a splinter group from the NLD.

Aye Win confirmed that the UN envoy had met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of her party, the NLD, on Monday.

“In past trips, Mr Gambari met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD separately. But yesterday's meeting was with the NLD and her together. It was the first time in the envoy’s seven visits,” he said.

Burma analysts questioned whether the Nigerian diplomat would make an eighth trip to Burma as he has only been granted an audience with Than Shwe once in seven visits.  

“This could be Gambari’s final trip," said Larry Jagen, a Bangkok-based British journalist who focuses on Burma. "He is unlikely to return to Burma in the near future."

He said that Gambari had only achieved limited objectives: he was able to meet Suu Kyi and he laid the groundwork for another visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; but still he was unable to meet with Than Shwe.

Meanwhile, the Burmese authorities refused to allow recently released political prisoners Win Tin and Khin Maung Swe join the five other members of the NLD who met with Gambari and Suu Kyi, sources within the party said.

Win Tin, 79, an executive member of the NLD and a former journalist, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that before the meeting with Gambari, the Special Branch of Burma's police force told the NLD that he and Khin Maung Swe could not attend the meeting.

Win Tin was Suu Kyi’s close aide in the late 1990s before he was arrested. He has spent some 19 years in prison. Observers say Win Tin was the mastermind behind the NLD’s civil disobedience movement in 1989.

"Preventing us meeting with a UN envoy who is here to discuss political issues in the country demonstrates that political rights in Burma have vanished," said Win Tin.

The other barred NLD central committee member, Khin Maung Swe, was twice arrested and has served lengthy imprisonments.

Win Tin and Khin Maung Swe were both released in September. Soon after their release, they resumed their political activities within the party.

State-run media and private weekly journals were recently coerced by the authorities to publish articles attacking Win Tin and Khin Maung Swe, according to journalists in Rangoon.

NLD sources said that at the meeting with Gambari, Suu Kyi reiterated her call for the release of political prisoners and spoke about her disappointment in Burma’s legal system, reflected in the heavy prison sentences, one of 104 years, handed down to dissidents, as well as the harassment of activists' lawyers by security forces.

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