August 23, 2008 / 11:21 AM / 11 years ago

U.N. envoy leaves Myanmar, fails to meet Suu Kyi

YANGON (Reuters) - A U.N. envoy left Myanmar on Saturday after failing to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or coax concessions from the military junta during his six-day mission, diplomats said.

In this file photo United Nations special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari speaks during an interview at the United Nations information centre in Tokyo February 28, 2008. Gambari left Myanmar on Saturday after failing to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or coax concessions from the military junta during his six-day mission, diplomats said. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota

Ibrahim Gambari, on his sixth visit as part of a U.N. push for reforms in the former Burma, extended his trip by one day in hopes of meeting the Nobel laureate, but it did not happen.

Gambari, who briefed diplomats before leaving the former capital Yangon, gave no reasons why Suu Kyi did not meet with him as she had done during past visits.

“He said he raised some points with the government and hoped to return. In terms of concrete outcomes, there was not much,” said one Western diplomat who declined to be named.

Gambari, who met Prime Minister Thein Sein on Saturday but did not get an audience with junta leader Senior General Than Shwe during his visit, told the diplomats he had again urged the government to release some 2,000 political prisoners and begin a proper dialogue with the opposition.

But the Nigerian diplomat has had little to show for his efforts to get the junta to include Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) in its plans to cede political control in a seven-step “roadmap to democracy”.

Suu Kyi failed to attend a scheduled meeting with Gambari on Wednesday, prompting speculation she is fed up with the junta’s treatment of the emissary and the lack of meaningful dialogue between her party and the regime.

A spokesman for the NLD, the party that won a massive election landslide in 1990 only to be denied power by the military, had expressed surprise at Suu Kyi’s no show.

“We just don’t know why,” Nyan Win said of the NLD leader who has been under house arrest for most of the past five years.

“So far as I heard, she is not satisfied with the present condition during this visit of Mr. Gambari,” Nyan Win said earlier this week.

After Gambari’s departure, Nyan Win told Reuters this latest mission was “unproductive. Not much different from his last visit.”

Gambari arrived on Monday — his fourth trip since pro-democracy protests were crushed last September — in another bid to kick-start 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 due to cyclone Nargis. There was no outside monitoring.

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

Gambari, who did not speak to reporters before flying to Singapore, told the diplomats U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hoped to visit Myanmar but no date had been set.

Additional reporting and writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Mary Gabriel

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