Mon 31 Oct 2011
Filed under: United Nations
Yangon – A senior United Nations official arrived in Myanmar on Monday for a five-day visit and was set to meet top members of the nominally civilian administration, according to the UN and government.Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “arrived in Yangon this morning and is going to Naypyidaw to meet government officials,” Aye Win, a UN information officer in Yangon, told AFP.
A Myanmar official said Nambiar would be in the country until November 4 and his meetings included the foreign and home affairs ministers as well as vice president Tin Aung Myint Oo.
He was also expected to meet democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, as he did during his last visit in May, when he said recent signals from the new army-backed government were “very encouraging”.
Since then hopes of political change have grown, with efforts by the new regime to reach out to opponents and a government move to defy ally China by freezing work on an unpopular mega dam.
A recent prisoner amnesty by the new government, however, failed to free most key dissidents, disappointing those who had hoped the country would release all its roughly 2,000 political detainees.
The UN’s rights envoy to Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said earlier in October in a report to the UN General Assembly that serious human rights violations persisted in Myanmar despite the amnesty.
Quintana said while progress had been made on the human rights front in recent months, he noted that ahead of by-elections expected by year’s end, “there should be no prisoners of conscience remaining in detention.”
Nambiar’s visit coincides with a trip to Myanmar by two senior US diplomats, according to a Myanmar government official.
Derek Mitchell, the new US coordinator for policy on Myanmar, is expected to be accompanied by the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, Michael Posner, for a four-day trip starting on Tuesday.
It will be the third visit by Mitchell since September, underscoring renewed diplomatic efforts by Washington to encourage diplomatic reforms in the authoritarian state, the subject of wide-ranging US sanctions.