– VOA News
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on Burma’s military rulers to ensure that the country’s first election in two decades is as inclusive, participatory and transparent as possible.
Mr. Ban met Monday with senior officials from the Group of Friends on Myanmar – 14 countries including the United States, Russia, China and Australia.
The U.N. chief told reporters the ministers he met with expressed their encouragement, concerns and expectations about the political process in Burma leading to the November 7 elections.
The Group of Friends called for the release of all political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who is under house arrest.
Mr. Ban said he agreed that the prisoners’ release is essential if Burma’s election is to be seen as credible.
If the Burmese leadership responds to the international community’s call for engagement, Mr. Ban said, the Group of Friends is commited to help Burma tackle its political, humanitarian and development challenges, and to move toward national reconciliation and democracy.
The Group of Friends on Myanmarwas formed in 2007 to serve as a consultative forum for developing a shared approach in support of the Secretary-General’s mandate on Burma.
Mr. Ban said he will continue his dialogue with Burmese authorities in the coming weeks, including at a meeting next month of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi.
The U.N. chief has repeatedly urged Burma to release hundreds of political prisoners so they can participate in the national election.
The world community has largely labeled the national poll a sham designed to legitimize the military leadership.