Burma has not requested United Nations monitors or assistance in the April 1 bi-elections, but the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is planning to send election observers to monitor the process from the outside, U.N. special envoy Vijay Nambiar told reporters in New York on Monday.
He said Burma’s by-elections would be closely watched from the outside to get an idea of the impartiality and fairness of the process. The U.N. would likely be involved in assisting in the 2015 national elections, he told reporters at a U.N headquarters press conference after returning from a five-day visit to Burma.
Responding to a question, Nambiar said he had not met with any military generals, but had discussed ethnic peace issues with relevant groups and academics. He said he talked with the government minister who dealt with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), and he had met with the Union Peace Committee, which seemed confident that peace issues with the KIO would be addressed.
He said the Burma’s commitment in the signing of key cease-fire agreements and meetings with stakeholder groups were among the key factors in his urging greater humanitarian and technical support by the West.
The dramatic positive changes in Burma ove the past year had demonstrated “an unprecedented level of initiative”, he said. However, Burma was only at the beginning of its transition, he added, noting that this was his fourth visit in the past year.
While international support was needed, the onus rested on the Burmese government to ensure further positive developments to bring about real improvements to the lives of its people, he said.
The first test of that commitment would be the coming by-elections in April for 48 seats in Parliament, which would test the government’s ability to enhance the democratic process. He said a similar commitment was needed to further social and economic development, as well as peace and reconciliation efforts.
But chances for continued progress meant that “the international community must respond robustly to people’s needs by lifting current restrictions” on the country, he said.
“The people of Myanmar will expect the international community to step up,” he said, adding that the United Nations was currently intensifying its efforts, including helping with the first national census taken since 1983, and the United Nations Development Programme had suggested holding a donors’ conference later this year to better coordinate aid and assistance.
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