Democracy cannot be imposed: Myanmar warns UN

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United Nations, Oct 2: The current crisis in Myanmar is the result of a ''neo-colonialist'' attempt by powerful countries to exploit recent peaceful protests, the country's foreign minister told the General Assembly, adding that normalcy has now returned after security forces took action against the demonstrators.

Speaking yesterday at the assembly's annual high-level debate, U Nyan Win stressed that ''the destiny of each and every country cannot be imposed from outside'' and Myanmar would proceed towards democracy in its own way.

The foreign minister said an initial protest of a small group of activists against the rise in fuel prices had been exploited by the political opportunists.

''They sought to turn the situation into a political showdown aided and abetted by some powerful countries. They also took advantage of protests staged initially by a small group of Buddhist clergy demanding apology for maltreatment of fellow monks by local authorities.'' The security personnel exercised utmost restraint and did not intervene for nearly a month. However, when the mob became unruly and provocative, they were compelled to declare a curfew, he said, adding that when protesters ignored their warnings, they had to take action to restore the situation.

Describing Myanmar as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the Foreign Minister said, ''Government is fully aware of its responsibility to lead the nation in the process of transformation to a disciplined democracy,'' and added that a detailed road map had been outlined to achieve the goal.

''The international community can best help Myanmar by showing greater understanding. They can begin by refraining from measures which would result in adding fuel to the fire.'' He also warned that neo-colonialist attempts of undermining the country would result in conflict and untold sufferings for the people of Myanmar.

Certain countries conduct media campaigns against a targeted State to spread wrong information that the country concerned is committing gross human rights violations. They portray the campaign as a fight for democracy and then impose sanctions and provide material support to create unrest in the country.

''I would like to stress that economic sanctions are counterproductive and can only delay the path to democracy,'' he said.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari is slated to meet country's top General Than Schwe to discuss the violent repression of street protests in Yangon last week The Human Rights Council is also holding a special session on the issue amid widespread international calls including from Mr Ban and the Security Council for Myanmar's authorities to exercise restraint towards the protesters.

UNI

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