On Myanmar, UN May Help with
2010 Election Under Flawed Constitution, Rohingya Not Discussed
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 20 --
Myanmar's general Than Shwe refused to meet with UN envoy Ibrahim
during his trip two weeks ago to that country.
his way back to New York,
Gambari met with Japan's foreign minister, who after the meeting put a
gloss on the military regimes move to consolidate its power in 2010
elections in which the main opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi of the
not allowed to run, using a constitution enacted in 2008 just after
Nargis, in a referendum in which it was illegal to speak against the
Not surprisingly, the NLD has criticized what it called Gambari's
and Japan's joint statement.
Following a closed door Security Council meeting on
Friday, Inner City
Press asked Gambari about the NLD's criticism. Gambari responded that
not a joint communique, but acknowledged that he had told those Myanmar
with whom he met that the UN might favorably view a request for
assistance if it followed "broad consultations." He said that the NLD
is "free to take positions." Video here,
from Minute 7:01.
Japan's Ambassador Yukio Takasu, this month's
Council president, went
further, telling Inner City Press that "there was no communique,"
rather an answer by his foreign minister to a question from the media.
said that the NLD wants to "turn back the clock to 1990," the last
time credible elections were held. Video here,
from Minute 1:48.
Press asked if it is Japan's position that the 2008 constitution, with
flaws, is credible. Takasu did not answer directly, but rather calls
efforts before 2010. Video here,
from Minute 5:10.
Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador John Sawers
about the situation of
the Rohingya, Muslims refugees from Myanmar many of whom were towed
back out to
see by Thailand and died. Video here,
from Minute 2:53. Sawers said called this a serious situation, but said
Gambari had not raised it, which Gambari confirmed, saying it was not
points given to him by the Group of Friends on Myanmar, with which Ban
is slated to meet on February 23.
UN's Gambari on Feb. 20, use of WFP
helicopters duly noted, but Rohingya not mentioned
A recurring question was whether Ban Ki-moon should
go to Myanmar, even
if Than Shwe does not release Aung San Suu Kyi. Inner
City Press asked France's Jean-Maurice
Ripert if Ban should go. It is not up to us if Ban goes, Ripert
answered. Video here,
from Minute 5:01.
John Sawers of the UK went further, saying it would be "well-judged" if
Ban went to
Myanmar. From this we can conclude that Than Shwe is winning at the UN,
least that carrots (instead of sticks) are being prepared for him.
Inner City Press was told that U.S. disagrees with
the impression that
Hillary Clinton has signaled a move from sticks to carrots, but US
Representative Susan Rice was not at the meeting -- in fairness, it was
she returned to Washington for family time -- and the US Representative
present, who is quite articulate on other matters, did not speak at the
stakeout. Watch this site.
Footnote: after the
Council meeting and stakeouts, the always affable Ibrahim Gambari told
Inner City Press that he had, while in Myanmar, been transported by the
World Food Program, and not in military helicopters. As Inner City
Press asked about at a UN noon briefing this week, that was the UN's
ostensible human rights expert Mr. Quintana....
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