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Gambari to visit Myanmar for the seventh time
The UN special envoy will once again try to persuade the Myanmar military junta to shed its stubborn attitude and kick start a dialogue with the Opposition to usher in political reconciliation even as the regime prepares for general elections in 2010
IN YET another attempt to make the obdurate Myanmar military junta see reason and usher in political reconciliation at the earliest, the United Nations special envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari is likely to visit the Southeast Asian country yet again. The announcement was made by the UN office of the Secretary-General. This will be his seventh trip to the country.

The announcement made on January 23 and reported in the Myanmar media in exile said that Gambari has a standing invitation from the military junta to revisit Myanmar. The trip by the special envoy is likely any time soon. However, details of Gambari's trip to the country were not disclosed by the UN Office. But it did point out that as far as the military regime was concerned there was a standing invitation to the envoy.

Media reports suggest that Gambari's visit is likely to be of four days duration and is slated to begin on January 31. The trip is part of the United Nations efforts to persuade the military junta to shed its stubborn attitude and kick start a dialogue with the Opposition and various ethnic groups to usher in political reconciliation even as the junta prepares for general elections in 2010 as part of its roadmap to "disciplined democracy" for Myanmar.

Gambari's last visit to, what the western nations calls a rogue country, was in August 2008. However, as in his previous visits it failed to yield much, with the envoy failing to meet the Myanmar military junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe. The detained opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi also spurned Gambari's wish to meet her.

The Opposition in Myanmar is not thrilled with the UN special envoy's seventh visit to the country since he took up the job as the UN Secretary-General's special envoy to Burma in early 2006. It has been extremely critical of Gambari's failure to show case any tangible progress so far. On the contrary both ethnic groups and the Opposition, including Su Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy have blamed the envoy of playing into the hands of the crafty generals. They have alleged that the envoy all this time has been led up the garden path by the generals who have just tolerated and toyed with Gambari to keep international pressure on the regime at bay. As such this time around too the Opposition harbours little hope that the envoy will make any progress.

It is precisely for this reason that the United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon avoided going to Myanmar in December 2008, which he was scheduled to. He backed out saying that he saw little point in engaging the junta in talks on political reconciliation in the country because there was little to show that the regime was inclined to start an all inclusive dialogue with the Opposition camp.

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