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Burma's Government Forcing UN Official to Leave Country


Burma's military government has told the top United Nations official in the country that his diplomatic credentials will not be renewed, in effect forcing him to leave. The move comes a day before the U.N.'s chief envoy to Burma arrives to push the government to make reforms. VOA's Kate Pound Dawson reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

United Nations officials said Friday the Burmese government told Charles Petrie, the United Nations country chief, that he would have to leave.

Aye Win is a spokesman for the U.N. Development Program in Rangoon.

"We can confirm that the government has stated its intention that he's no longer welcome," he said.

Aye Win said it is not clear when Petrie will have to leave and Burma's military government offered no explanation for the move.

The U.N. spokesman would not comment on reports that the government refused to renew Petrie's diplomatic credentials in retaliation for a statement he made criticizing the country's economy.

Burma is one of Asia's poorest country's, despite having vast natural resources. In August, a series of protests began after the government sharply raised fuel prices. Those protests grew to bring tens of thousands of people, led by Buddhist monks, to the streets.

In late September, the military government crushed the protests. Diplomats and human rights groups estimate scores of people may have been killed and thousands detained. The government said only about 10 people were killed and blames groups outside the country for provoking the marches.

The news about Petrie's status came a day before the top United Nations envoy to Burma is scheduled to visit. Ibrahim Gambari is to meet with senior Burmese leaders to urge them to institute political reforms and begin a dialogue with opposition groups.

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