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Myanmar and Kachin Now UN Afterthoughts, Ban on Voting Scarcely Mentioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 11 -- Have things in Myanmar changed so much that its fallen off the UN Security Council's radar screen, even on the rare day there's a Burmese item on the agenda?

  The Council was to have heard from UN envoy Vijay Nambiar on Tuesday, but it was unceremoniously postponed because Syria, a briefing by former head of peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno, was added to the agenda.

  So Nambiar came to the Council Wednesday morning,but quickly left -- Sudan came first, the cross border fighting between Juba and Khartoum.

  Outside, Inner City Press asked Nambiar again about Kachin State, where in three constituencies voting was not allowed.

  As Inner City Press reported last month, one of the constituencies, Mogaung, has had no known fighting so its unclear why voting has been canceled there -- except for the fact that the the candidate running there Dr. Tu Ja was a former vice chairman of the KIO and would almost certainly have won.

   Another constituency Hpakant has had some fighting but very little over the past few months so again its unclear if security is the real reason voting can't take place. The popular candidate is Bauk Ja (also Bawk Ja or Bauk Gyar) is from the NLD splinter group the NDF and almost certainly would win in a fair fight.

At least outside the Security Council, Nambiar acknowledged that this is a concern, adding that recent meetings between the government and Karen rebels might portend well for the Kachin.

  When US Ambassador Susan Rice emerged at the end of the session, she read out summaries on Sudan and, on Myanmar, a relatively glowing one. The first of what were going to be only two questions was on neither of the morning's topics, but rather on Syria.

  The day previous a question on North Korea, which has not been on the agenda pending the country's impending missile launch, was allowed but taken last, after Syria. But on Wednesday, Syria came before either of the day's Council agenda items. Ambassador Rice answered in her national capacity.

  Then came a question on Sudan, something about the unity of the Council. (As Inner City Press reported prior to the stakeout, and after asking about Sudan at the day's UN noon briefing, a draft Presidential Statement has already been circulated, and experts will meet on it in the afternoon.)

  Then that was supposed to be it: no question on Myanmar, and no mention of Kachin or any other problem.

  Inner City Press asked about Kachin, and to her credit Ambassador Rice stopped and answered, that yes it had come up in consultations and members had expressed concerns. But what will they do about it? Myanmar is a country with a now full-time Under Secretary General assigned to it. What will be accomplished, for example for the Kachin?

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is slated to go to Myanmar later this month for what many thing will be a sort of victory tour highlighting a country that has gotten better while he has been Secretary General.

  When even those countries which used to watchdog backsliding on Myanmar now trend to forgetting it, what will be accomplished, for example for the Kachin? Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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