21 February 2005

Secretary-General Expresses Concern at Exclusion of Political Groups from Myanmar National Convention

NEW YORK, 18 February (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General notes that on 17 February, Myanmar reconvened its National Convention to continue drafting the principles on which a new constitution will be based. Regrettably, contrary to his earlier suggestions, this happened without the participation of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other political parties.

The Secretary-General is also concerned about the recent detention of several Shan leaders, including the President of the Shan State Peace Council (SSPC) and the Chairman of the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD).

While accepting that Myanmar faces complex and difficult challenges in its transition to democracy and its quest for national reconciliation, the Secretary-General believes that for a genuine process of national reconciliation to take root, the views of the NLD and other political parties, as well as the representatives of all the ethnic nationality ceasefire groups, must be sought and considered.

It remains the Secretary-General’s view that the National Convention, in its present format, does not adhere to the recommendations made by successive resolutions of the General Assembly. He thus reiterates his call on the Myanmar authorities, even at this late stage, to take the necessary steps to make the road map process more inclusive and credible.

The Secretary-General also encourages the authorities to ensure that the next phases of the road map -- the drafting of the constitution and the holding of a national referendum -- are transparent and inclusive.  It is his considered view that unless this poll adheres to internationally accepted standards of conduct and participation, it may be difficult for the international community, including the countries of the region, to endorse the result.

The Secretary-General, once again, appeals to the Myanmar authorities to resume without delay a substantive political dialogue with the representatives of all ethnic nationality groups and political leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to help achieve a genuine process of national reconciliation. He reiterates the need for the remaining constraints on all political leaders to be lifted, NLD offices to be allowed to reopen and for political prisoners, including elected officials, to be released. He also renews his readiness to facilitate national reconciliation efforts among all parties concerned and, to that end, urges the authorities to agree to a visit of his Special Envoy.

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