Suu Kyi’s Party Downbeat after UN Myanmar Visit

YANGON ~ Myanmar’s opposition party said on Wednesday it saw little progress from a visit by a top UN envoy, as the junta accused democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi of setting impossible conditions for talks.

UN diplomat Ibrahim Gambari left military-run Myanmar on Tuesday after a four-day visit aimed at nudging the regime toward dialogue with the democratic opposition, but he failed to secure a meeting with the top junta leadership.

“I must say I do not see any development yet overall of the UN envoy visit,” Nyan Win, spokesman for detained Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said.

“It is very difficult to predict the political situation in the future. I would like to say that the country will be harmed if it continues like this.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, whom the junta has kept locked away under house arrest for most the past 19 years, met Gambari on Monday. She had refused to see him on his previous visit to Myanmar in August last year.

“Aung San Suu Kyi said when she met Mr Gambari that she is willing to meet (the regime) for dialogue. But she just does not want to accept the situation if there will be no benefits from a meeting,” Nyan Win said.

Myanmar’s ruling generals have shunned UN-led pleas to include Aung San Suu Kyi in their plans for reform, instead pushing ahead with their own “Roadmap to Democracy,” which excludes her from elections planned for 2010.

Less than a day after Gambari flew out the country, Myanmar state media accused Aung San Suu Kyi of being unrealistic, leaving little room for the diplomatic maneuvering the UN envoy has been pushing for.

“A dialogue will be practical and successful only if the discussions are based on the reality of the prevailing conditions,” the state-run New Light of Myanmar quoted Information Minister Kyaw Hsan as saying.

“I would like to emphasize that there will be no success if it is based on idealism and unrealistic conditions.”

During their meeting with Gambari, Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD said that they would only sit down for dialogue if all political prisoners were released and results of 1990 elections won by the NLD were honoured.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thein Sein, who met Gambari on Tuesday, told the envoy that real political reform would not be possible until the US and Europe lift economic sanctions imposed on the regime.

Another topic raised during Gambari’s visit was a possible mission to Myanmar by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, although the NLD said any trip should be conditional on the release of political prisoners.

London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International says more than 2,000 political prisoners are languishing in Myanmar’s jails.

More than 270 activists were also handed harsh prison sentences at the end of last year, which rights groups said was an effort to suppress any dissenting voices ahead of the 2010 elections.

While the junta claims the polls will usher in multi-party democracy, critics say it is simply a mechanism for the military to legitimize their nearly five-decade grip on power.

Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD have so far refused to discuss the polls – which they deride as a sham – with Gambari or the military.

Win Min, a Myanmar analyst based in Thailand, said that with no apparent breakthrough from Gambari, expectations would fall on the shoulders of Ban Ki-moon if he does visit Myanmar.

“Both sides are still entrenched in their opinions,” Win Min said in in Bangkok.

“(Gambari) not seeing Than Shwe is bad. That shows that on the one hand they wanted him to come, but they don’t want to make any concessions at this time,” Win Min added, referring to the reclusive head of state.

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