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U.N. Myanmar envoy demands junta 'reconsider' drafted constitution.

TOKYO, Feb. 28 Kyodo

U.N. special envoy on Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari urged the junta in Myanmar on Thursday to ''reconsider'' a draft constitution it compiled for a referendum planned for May calling for more freedom and said he intends to discuss the matter with Myanmar leaders in his visit to the country next week.

Gambari said in an interview with Kyodo News in Tokyo that an early release of democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi should be indispensable to the future process of Myanmar democratization and opinions of her National League for Democracy should be more reflected in a future constitution.

''We hope during my next visit to discuss with them (junta officials) and...try to persuade them to reconsider so that this constitution would be broader,'' Gambari said, noting he will visit Myanmar ''next week.''

Gambari also urged the junta to ensure ''freedom of political prisoners including Aung Sun Suu Kyi and opportunity for free expression of views.'' He also said the Myanmar authorities should allow the NLD to have offices open throughout the country as the party currently has an office only in Yangon.

''All these will enhance the credibility'' of the democratization process in Myanmar through events such as the referendum and general elections planned for 2010, Gambari said.

Gambari said he will try to meet with junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, as well as Suu Kyi during his stay in Myanmar.

On the fresh economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar by the United States earlier this month, Gambari said a two-prong ''pressure and incentives'' approach is necessary to urge the junta to promote democracy.

''Even the Americans in announcing the new sanctions have also said they support the efforts of the secretary general and the security council to mediate the situation,'' Gambari said.

On Japan's decision to refrain from following the U.S. move, Gambari said Japan has decided ''that was not the route they want to go. I respect that.''

Gambari arrived in Japan on Tuesday, the last leg of his trip to Asia, and has met with Japanese officials including Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 2, 2008
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