Implications of Suu Kyi’s refusal to meet Gambari…

12 Sep

Any wonder why the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has chosen not to meet up with UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari?

According to Kyaw Zwa Moe, in Irrawaddy’s, ‘The UN’s Dangerous Detour‘, the UN has been bending itself over backwards in promoting the interests of the military junta and its ‘road map’ to democracy. He wrote, it ‘was more than a disappointment: it was a disgrace’. The writer also added that Gambari was pushing for a nation-wide 2010 elections, which was originally part of the junta’s ‘road map’. The envoy further assured that the UN would monitor this election to ensure that it is conducted in a ‘free and fair’ manner.

The problem with trying to conduct a future election is three-fold.

However, even before we consider that prospect, the envoy should be dutifully reminded that the National League for Democracy (NLD) had already won the polls fair and square back in 1991. They were prevented from forming a civilian government by the junta which has thus far, shown no remorse and has continued with its repressive rule.

This view is supported by an Irrawaddy editorial, ‘The UN Must Set the Agenda’, which noted that humanitarian aid being delivered to victims of Cyclone Nargis faced tremendous difficulties, which ‘can be traced directly to local bureaucratic hurdles or military interference by the regime’.

Therefore, given the junta’s dodgy previous and current track record, what makes the UN confident that the former would not resort to similar tricks if they are to lose again the next round?

Moreover, even if they are to win, the UN can never guarantee that the elections will be free and fair. This is because the country is currently under military rule which translates into the denial of freedom of expression. This will indirectly impact and obstruct opposition politicians from free and fair campaigning. Any results that are to materialise will likely be heavily prejudiced towards the status quo.

Lastly, the NLD was supposed to form the government back in 1991, which has yet to materialise. If the UN are to disregard the results of that election, then it is effectively delegitimising itself as a impartial world body by ignoring the democratic wishes of the Burmese.

Now that Suu Kyi has refused to meet Gambari, the secretary general, Ban Ki- Moon, is sticking to his guns. He claims that Gambari’s visit was not futile and that progress can be made despite the odds. The Secretary General is naive in making such a statement because he should know that any negotiations without Suu Kyi is basically meaningless.

Such a move by Suu Kyi has various implications not just for developments in Burma, but also the UN.

First, the UN is losing its hold as an impartial mediator. Worse, it is seen as powerless in its role as a negotiator because it can no longer get NLD and Suu Kyi onto the negotiating table.

While the current deadlock may appear to be at a disadvantage for NLD , it may not necessarily be so. By downplaying the UN’s role, the supporting function of ASEAN and neighbouring countries that are propping up the junta, is also henceforth, reduced. The ‘road map’ adovcated by the junta cannot proceed under a disguise of having the support of these actors.

Hopefully, the UN will be forced to consider taking a stronger stance against the junta. Not only should the UN demand for more human rights improvements, it should also adopt harsher language, not just against the junta, but also on corporations and countries that are supporting the latter.

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One Response to “Implications of Suu Kyi’s refusal to meet Gambari…”

  1. joni September 13, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Very good post Charles for the 250th. A milestone in the history of this blog.

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