Published on March 10, 2008
Gambari's latest mission was to convince the ruling junta to change the new constitution - dubbed a "sham" by the UN and the international community - to ensure inclusiveness. This would mean pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be permitted to stand in the 2010 poll.
Gambari was permitted a brief meeting with Suu Kyi. The lady has spent the better part of the past two decades locked up under house arrest. But that was all he was going to get. The junta was not in the mood to give much more than that. Rangoon greeted Gambari with a press statement saying the government has rejected a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the regime to amend the new constitution.
It should come as no surprise to the world's people that the Burmese junta is not going to give in easily, especially to hollow words from the UN or any agency that doesn't have anything concrete to back up their demands.
The UN and the international community have to think outside the box and explore other options, like an exit strategy for the junta or some sort of mechanism that would ensure their place in the country's political arena. The orthodox diplomatic approach hasn't worked, so perhaps it's time that the world community thinks afresh and creatively.
After all this is a country that doesn't seem to heed the advice and concerns of the international community, whether they are friends or critics.
Incidentally, Burmese information minister Kyaw Hsan even took a jab at neighbouring Thailand, saying that the world community has not objected to the country's new constitution despite the lack of participation by its opponents.