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Myanmar says UN must end sanctions
Military government tells UN envoy sanctions must end before it will consider reforms.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2009 08:04 GMT
Myanmar officials told Gambari, left, that sanctions must be lifted as a precondition for reform [EPA]

Myanmar's military government has called for economic and diplomatic sanctions against the country to be lifted before it will consider any reform or political reconciliation, state media has said.

State television reported that the UN should "first try to remove economic sanctions and visa bans" in exchange for economic development and political stability.

The demand by General Thein Sein, the country's prime minister, came as the UN special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, wrapped up a four-day trip to the country with no sign of progress in his attempt to push for democratic change and political reconciliation.

Thein Sein reportedly told the UN envoy that economic sanctions against his country amounted to human rights violations, affecting health, economic and social conditions.

"The political situation can be stable if the economic situation is stable," state television quoted him as saying.

"We have been trying amid many kinds of difficulties, but you cannot ask us to run by tying the legs with rope. You need to release the rope."

Western governments, including the United States, have imposed economic and political sanctions on Myanmar because of its poor human rights record and failure to restore democracy.

Gambari is due to brief the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, on his visit during a stopover in New Delhi on Thursday.

Opposition demands

Aung San Suu Kyi said she had become frustrated at delays in securing reforms [AFP]
On Monday Gambari met Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader who has been under house arrest for the most part of the last 19 years.

The Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), had outlined to Gambari several preconditions for dialogue with the military government.

She reportedly told him that the military government should immediately release all political detainees, recognise the NLD's landslide victory in 1990 elections and review the new constitution passed in a widely criticised referendum last May.

Gambari's last visit in August 2008 ended in a deadlock with Aung San Suu Kyi refusing to meet him on grounds that no progress had been made on five previous visits.

Myanmar's ruling generals have shunned international calls to include the democracy leader in their plans for reform, and have instead pushed ahead with their own so-called "Roadmap to Democracy".

That plan has been dismissed as a sham by opposition groups, because it guarantees the military will hold the balance of power and excludes Aung San Suu Kyi from elections planned for 2010.

According to human rights group Amnesty International more than 2,000 activists are being held in Myanmar jails by the military, which has held political power in Myanmar since 1962.

Source:
Agencies
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