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UN Secretary-General Says World Running Out of Patience With Burma's Generals

By Luis Ramirez
10 December 2007

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the international community is running out of patience with Burma's repressive military government. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Bangkok, where the top U.N. official spoke on his way to a climate change conference in Indonesia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a stern warning for Burma's generals and their slow moves toward democracy Monday, when he joined the Thai Prime Minister, Surayut Chulanond, for a news conference.

The U.N. chief said maintaining the status quo in Burma - where the government keeps rounding up suspected dissidents on an almost daily basis following a bloody crackdown in September - is not acceptable. "I know the international community is very much impatient and our patience is running out," said Ban.

He said he hopes Burmese leaders take international concerns seriously and called on them to be more proactive in promoting democracy, protecting human rights, and opening dialogue with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The U.N. leader also urged the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to do more to promote democracy in Burma. He said ASEAN has a "special political role" in the country.

ASEAN has come under criticism from some members of the international community for not taking a tougher stance on Burma - a member of the grouping. "The people of Myanmar, they have been suffering from isolation such a long time, and it is high time now that Myanmar authorities and people will be able to enjoy genuine democracy and freedom and general integration in the international community," said Ban. "This is what the international community expects. Their human rights should be fully respected."

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has been awaiting permission from the Burmese government to visit Burma to continue efforts to broker negotiations between the military leadership and the opposition. Gambari has been in Burma twice since the violent September crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators.

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