Friday, February 20

From BurmaNet

The United Nations’ human rights envoy for Myanmar headed on Wednesday for the country’s new capital, Naypyidaw, for possible meetings with senior junta figures.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Myanmar, arrived on Saturday for his second mission to the country and visited political prisoners earlier in the week.

“He left for Naypyidaw this morning but we are not sure who exactly will receive him,” a diplomat based in the main city, Yangon, told Reuters.

The U.N. says Quintana had asked the military government for access to “a number of prisoners of conscience” but it was unclear if he would be able to visit opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in Yangon for 13 of the past 19 years.

The generals moved the capital to Naypyidaw, about 380 km north of Yangon, in 2005.

Quintana was in eastern Kayin State on Sunday and Monday, visiting the prison in the local capital, Pa-an, and meeting leaders of ethnic groups opposed to the junta.

Later on Monday he went to the notorious Insein Central Jail on the outskirts of Yangon, where he met political prisoners including Tin Min Htut and Nyi Bu, elected MPs from the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

They were sentenced to 15 years in prison in a closed trial on Friday, the day before Quintana arrived.

The two men had been arrested last August after they wrote an open letter to the U.N. criticising the military regime’s proposed political reforms.

State media made no mention of the U.N. envoy’s visit.

Under a new constitution brought in last year, multi-party elections are to be held in 2010, although the generals will be handing over little real power to the elected leadership.

Suu Kyi’s NLD believes the results of the last election in 1990 should be respected and form the basis for any transition to democracy. The NLD won a landslide victory, only to be denied power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.

The NLD has not said publicly whether it will take part in the election but it has called on the regime to set up a multilateral commission to review the constitution.

All three state-owned papers, which are generally considered to be the mouthpiece of the junta, urged the opposition on Wednesday to take part in the 2010 vote.

“If they really want to serve the interests of the nation and the people, they should recognise the benevolent attitude of the government and stand for elections fairly in line with the law,” the English daily New Light of Myanmar said in a commentary.

The NLD for its part issued a statement on Tuesday calling for a meeting between Suu Kyi and regime supremo Senior General Than Shwe.

“It will be the best way to bring about significant advantages for the country if the two leaders, who have the decisive power, meet and talk immediately without any preconditions instead of arguing with each other,” it said.

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