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UN Envoy Hopes for Burma Visit in Early March to Discuss Elections


The United Nations envoy to Burma says he thinks Burma's military rulers are preparing to invite him to the country in early March to discuss planned elections. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in the Indonesian capital Jakarta has more.

The U. N. secretary-general's special advisor for Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, says he will discuss with the military rulers their decision to ban democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from elections planned for 2010.

"This is one of the issues that I intend to discuss with the authorities and I believe that they are in the process of inviting me to return to Myanmar, hopefully within the first week of March," he said.

Gambari made the comments to journalists in Jakarta Wednesday during a tour of Asian countries. He hopes to drum up regional support to press for democratic reforms in Burma, which is also called Myanmar.

The military has brutally ruled Burma for over four decades. In 1990, elections were held and the National League for Democracy party, or NLD, won by a landslide. The military never allowed the NLD candidates to take power.

The leader of the NLD, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years. In its new draft constitution, the government has barred her from contesting the 2010 elections because she was married to a foreigner.

The NLD says to achieve democracy Burma's rulers must honor the party's victory in 1990.

Gambari, who has visited Burma twice since September to open talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military, says Burma must respect the rights of its people.

"What we want to see is a peaceful, united, stable, prosperous Myanmar, moving along the path of democracy with full respect for human rights of its people," he said.

Burma has come under increasing international pressure to move toward democracy, especially since its violent crackdown against peaceful demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in September.

The United Nations says at least 31 people were killed and thousands arrested, but rights groups put the death toll much higher.

The United States and many other countries have imposed economic sanctions on Burma, but most of its Asian neighbors, including China, India and Southeast Asia, have not done so. Most Southeast Asian governments say that economic and diplomatic engagement will encourage reform more effectively than sanctions.

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