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U.N. envoy Gambari to return to Myanmar Monday

United Nations special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari speaks during an interview at the United Nations information center in Tokyo February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Myanmar envoy Ibrahim Gambari will visit the Asian country on Monday to renew pressure on its ruling junta to democratize and improve its human rights record.

Gambari will leave New York later on Friday for the five-day visit, his fourth since Myanmar’s military authorities crushed pro-democracy marches in September, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

“Mr. Gambari looks forward to returning to Myanmar and continuing his consultations with the government and other relevant parties,” Haq said.

Gambari’s visit was announced last month, but no dates were given.

Gambari has said his last visit, in March, was a disappointment and yielded no concrete results.

In May, Myanmar was hit by a catastrophic cyclone, which left 138,000 people dead or missing.

Also in May, Myanmar approved a new military-drafted constitution, part of a “roadmap to democracy” meant to culminate in multi-party elections in 2010. Western countries described as “fatally flawed” a referendum that backed the constitution.

Western nations were also angered by a decision by the junta to extend the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi weeks after the cyclone, which had brought in millions of dollars in foreign aid.

The military has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since 1962.

Reporting by Patrick Worsnip