/ 10 March 2008

UN envoy meets Burma’s Suu Kyi again

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was taken to a state guest house in the former capital on Monday for her second meeting in two days with visiting United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

UN officials gave no details of Gambari’s planned discussions with the Nobel laureate, who has been under house arrest and incommunicado for more than 12 of the last 18 years. Her latest period of detention began in May 2003.

The Nigerian diplomat was due to leave Burma on Monday evening, ending his third visit since September’s brutally crushed pro-democracy marches.

He has little to show for his efforts to get the junta to include Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) in its plans to cede political control in a seven-step ”roadmap to democracy”.

In singularly blunt language, the generals spurned his offer of observers for May’s constitutional referendum and elections in 2010, redoubling concerns about the freedom and fairness of both polls.

They also said they had no need for external expertise in running the elections, saying they had ”enough experience”.

The last time they allowed elections, in 1990, they were forced to ignore the result when Suu Kyi’s party won more than 80% of the vote.

The crackdown against last September’s protests sparked worldwide outrage and a major diplomatic push for political reform in the former British colony, which has been under military rule since 1962.

However, with veto-wielding UN Security Council members China and Russia unwilling to see the imposition of binding international sanctions, the generals have refused to budge from a roadmap that the West derides as a sham. – Reuters