August 20, 2008 / 11:38 AM / 11 years ago

Myanmar's Suu Kyi skips meeting with U.N. envoy

Protesters hold a photo of imprisoned human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi in Manila, August 8, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/John Javellana

YANGON (Reuters) - Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to attend a scheduled meeting with a U.N. special envoy on Wednesday, prompting speculation she is taking a stand against the junta’s treatment of the emissary.

The former Burma’s ruling generals threw a tight security cordon round the state guest house where Ibrahim Gambari and the 63-year-old Nobel laureate have held previous meetings, part of a U.N. “shuttle diplomacy” push to encourage political reform.

Gambari turned up in the morning, but the car carrying Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for the last five years, failed to arrive. Gambari eventually left alone. A spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that won a massive election landslide in 1990 only to be denied power by the military, expressed surprise at her no-show.

“We just don’t know why,” Nyan Win told Reuters. “So far as I heard, she is not satisfied with the present condition during this visit of Mr. Gambari.”

Gambari arrived on his five-day mission on Monday — overall his sixth trip to Myanmar — amid waning hopes for kick-starting talks between Suu Kyi and the generals after they rammed a new constitution through in a referendum in May.

The charter, which guarantees the army 25 percent of seats in parliament and control of key ministries, passed with 92 percent approval despite being postponed in parts of the country by the devastation of Cyclone Nargis. There was no outside monitoring.

Analysts say the new constitution and the military government’s rigid adherence to a seven-step “roadmap to democracy” leading to elections in 2010 renders Gambari’s mission virtually pointless.

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