Thu 31 Mar 2011
Filed under: International
The United Nations has urged that the new government in Burma should be “more than a change in name, and a genuine move away from military rule,” according to a statement from the UN secretary-general’s office on Wednesday.
“The Myanmar [Burmese] authorities now have an opportunity and, indeed, an obligation to their people, to demonstrate that this change is one of substance and that it is the start of a genuine move away from almost 50 years of direct military rule,” said the statement issued by the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Burma’s military junta, known as the State Peace and Development Council, officially ceased to exist as of Wednesday after the transfer of power to a civilian government in Naypyidaw led by President Thein Sein, the first president elected in accordance with the 2008 constitution. He had previously been prime minister since 2007.
Despite the transfer of power, the UN reaffirmed its stand on “an inclusive dialogue” between the new government and the democratic opposition.
“The Secretary-General believes the authorities must engage in an inclusive dialogue with all relevant parties on broad reforms necessary for the development of a credible system of government that can effectively address the political and socioeconomic challenges facing Myanmar,” said the spokesperson.
The United States expressed its deep concerns on the continuous “oppressive environment” in Burma.
“The fact that they [the Burmese generals] have taken off their uniforms and donned civilian clothes is immaterial,” said Mark Toner, the acting deputy spokesperson of the US State Department. “We remain deeply concerned about Burma’s oppressive political environment.”
Toner, however, said that the US’s two-track approach—engaging with Naypyidaw while maintaining sanctions—will remain in place.
On Wednesday, Burma’s state-run New Light of Myanmar published a list of the 23 nations and organizations, including the UN chief, that sent messages of felicitations and congratulations to the president and two vice-presidents of the new government.
Chinese President Hu Jintao was the first on the list. All the leaders of Burma’s fellow member states at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with the exception of the Philippines, sent messages of congratulations to the leaders of the new Burmese government which has effectively taken office after ministers were sworn in on March 30.