Myanmar Junta Should Be Offered Shared Rule: Wirayuda

By Mira Oberman
Agence France-Presse

CHICAGO ~ Myanmar’s military junta should be allowed to temporarily share power with a civilian government in order to facilitate the transition to democracy, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told AFP.

“We have to be more sensitive as to what the crux of the problem is,” Wirayuda said in an interview on Tuesday.

“To me it’s the question of insecurity on the part of the military regime and what will happen to them in the new, democratic Myanmar.”

Wirajuda’s suggestion came as UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari drafted a keenly awaited report on his talks with Myanmar’s ruling generals and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari flew into Singapore late on Tuesday after ending a four-day mission to Myanmar in the wake of the junta’s bloody crackdown on anti-government street protests.

The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a motion on Tuesday condemning the crackdown in which it called for the immediate release of political prisoners and urged the government “to desist from further violence against peaceful protestors.”

But sanctions and condemnations from the West have so far done nothing to sway Myanmar’s region, Wirajuda said following a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Meanwhile, the “constructive engagement” favored by Indonesia and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had also failed to produce the desired results, he said.

“That’s why perhaps a transition in which there would be sharing of power between the military and civilian leaders” might be better, he said.

“In other words, we should not demand (an immediate) transfer of power from the military to the civilians. The world should have a balanced approach.”

The transitional period could last five years, Wirajuda said, in order to “create confidence on the part of the military in the transition process.”

Both ASEAN and China needed to play an active role in helping Myanmar develop a roadmap to democratization and the freeing of political prisoners, he said.

Despite China’s insistence that it will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, Wirajuda expressed confidence that China could be brought to the table.

“China played a role and has been playing a role despite the notion of non-interference,” he said.

“Behind the scenes, China is working, including last week, because China in a way put pressure on the regime in Myanmar to facilitate the visit of Gambari.”

Indonesia could also play a significant role, by sharing its experience in the transition from military government to full-fledged democracy, he said.

At least 13 people were killed and at least 1,000 detained in Myanmar as the security forces reasserted control last week following the biggest challenge to the regime in nearly 20 years.

Foreign diplomats, rights groups and aid agencies say the real figures could be much higher.

ASEAN foreign ministers, using unusually sharp language, last week voiced “revulsion” at the crackdown.

The junta has defended its tactics, with Foreign Minister Nyan Win blaming the turmoil on “political opportunists” backed by “powerful countries.”

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