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UN Envoy Holds Second Meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi བོད་སྐད།

  • Naomi Martig

Visiting United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari held talks with Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, his second meeting with her in three days. The U.N. diplomat is pushing Burma's military government to include the democracy activist's party in coming elections. But, as Naomi Martig reports from Hong Kong, officials in Burma have so far refused.

United Nations officials say the Nobel Peace Prize winner met with Ibrahim Gambari for about 45 minutes at a government facility in Rangoon. Gambari arrived in Burma on Thursday and was allowed to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi and leaders of her National League for Democracy party on Saturday, as well.

Gambari is in Burma on a mission to persuade the military government to negotiate with her and allow her party to participate in the country's political process. He has made little progress on the issue.

Burma's leaders announced in early February that the country would hold a referendum on a draft constitution in May and general elections in 2010.

But the draft constitution bans anyone married to a foreigner from running for office, effectively keeping Aung San Suu Kyi from running because she was married to a British man who died of cancer nearly a decade ago. Burmese officials have refused to amend that section.

Saturday, Burma's government also rejected a U.N. proposal to allow independent election observers at the constitutional referendum.

Roshan Jason is the executive director of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus. He says Burma's refusal to consider any international suggestions on political reform is not surprising.

"This must translate into the U.N. taking tougher measures against the junta and realizing that negotiations and dialogues with them just does not result in any positive impact and any steps forward."

Jason says dialogue with Burma is important. But he says it is time U.N. officials take a harsher stance.

"Such as resolutions and asking strong worded resolutions which would allow the force of participation on things like polling monitors and compliances of having to have permanent representative of the office of Ban Ki-moon there to continue negotiations."

Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for more than 12 of the last 18 years. Her party won national elections in 1990, but the military refused to recognize the results.

Since Gambari's arrival, he has met with several government officials, foreign diplomats and a local representative of the International Red Cross.

His visit to Burma is his third since the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protests last September, which U.N. officials say killed more than 30 people.

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