Opposition Leader in Myanmar Expresses Frustration With U.N.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published:

February 3, 2009

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who is under house arrest, expressed frustration to a United Nations envoy on Monday over the organization’s failure to persuade Myanmar’s hard-line military leaders to give up their monopoly on power, her political party said.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent more than 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest, was briefly allowed out on Monday for a rare meeting with the United Nations envoy, Ibrahim Gambari. Nyan Win, a spokesman for Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, said that during the meeting she told Mr. Gambari that “she was ready and willing to meet anyone” to achieve political reform, but “could not accept having meetings without achieving any outcome.”

The party contends that Mr. Gambari’s seven visits since 2007 have produced no tangible progress toward democracy, saying that the United Nations has not been able to persuade the junta to release political prisoners or to hold talks with the democratic opposition. The party won an election in 1990, but was not allowed to take office.

Last August, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi snubbed Mr. Gambari by declining to keep an appointment with him and refusing to open the gates of her house in Yangon to his representatives. The gesture was surprising, because the house arrest keeps her in extreme isolation; Mr. Gambari is one of the rare outsiders, other than her lawyer and doctor, allowed to see her.

Myanmar’s military junta, which has ruled the country since 1962, when it was known as Burma, tolerates no dissent and crushed pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks in September 2007. Human rights groups say it holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, a large increase from the nearly 1,200 political prisoners who were being held before the demonstrations.

Mr. Gambari, who arrived Saturday for a four-day visit, has told diplomats that his objectives are to urge the junta to free political prisoners, discuss the country’s ailing economy and revive a dialogue with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.

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