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UN Envoy to Burma Threatens to Quit - 2002-11-12


The United Nations envoy to Burma says he might quit his post if the Rangoon government continues to balk at political reforms.

Razali Ismail said the discussions between Burma's military government and opposition leaders are taking too long and yielding few results. He warned he may quit his job if there is no progress soon.

The Malaysian diplomat arrived in Rangoon Tuesday for a five-day visit to help jump-start stalled talks between the ruling generals and democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

Mr. Razali negotiated historic talks between the two in October 2000 after Rangoon placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for attempting to visit members of her National League for Democracy outside Rangoon. The talks were aimed at paving the way for democratic reforms.

In May, as a result of the talks, the military freed Aung San Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest. The government also has freed some political prisoners, but has not made good on promises to hold more talks with Aung San Suu Kyi. Sao Seng Suk, a member of the National Reconciliation Program on Burma, thinks the Burmese government must take immediate action in the form of talks or risk losing any credibility it has left in the international community. "If they are really sincere to negotiate and compromise for the good of the country, then they will have to respond positively to the progress of the dialogue," he said.

Burma has been run by the military for over four decades and has been criticized internationally for its poor human rights record. Many Western nations have placed economic sanctions against the country.

The National League for Democracy won the 1990 elections by a landslide, but was never allowed to rule. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of the time since then under house arrest.

Mr. Razali, a veteran diplomat, is on his ninth visit to Burma.