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US resolution on Myanmar at UN may be vetoed

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12 (Reuters) A US-drafted UN Security Council resolution on persecution of opposition and minority groups by Myanmar's military junta appeared headed for defeat today after China signaled it would veto the measure.

The United States, which softened the draft from the original, is expected to get backing from nine of the 15 nations on the council.

But among the other six is China, a permanent member with veto rights, which is expected to vote ''no'' and kill the measure.

''I know there are a number of negative votes including some permanent members,'' China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya said yesterday. Other council members said privately they expected a veto from Beijing and that Russia might follow.

No one denies abuses by Myanmar's ruling military junta, which has been condemned in the 192-member General Assembly. But at issue is whether rights violations are a danger to peace and security in the region, the council's mandate.

Otherwise, the repression of opposition and minority groups by the Southeast Asian nation government is an issue for the assembly.

A council resolution carries more weight than one by the assembly and could lead to punitive measures, such as international sanctions.

''We think that it is not an appropriate issue to discuss in the Security Council,'' Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said earlier this week. South Africa and Indonesia are also among the countries opposing the draft on Myanmar, formerly Burma.

But the United States argues that a million Burmese refugees were living abroad and that the junta had not done enough to curb the trafficking of people and of narcotics, or the transmission of contagious diseases in the region.

'GROUNDBREAKING RESOLUTION' ''We think it is an important resolution that raises the international community's attention and awareness of the situation in Burma and calls upon the Burmese government to enact political reforms and to release political prisoners,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

''It's a groundbreaking resolution,'' he said.

China, which uses its veto rarely, last voted against a resolution in February 1999 on extending a peacekeeping force in Macedonia because of the Balkan's nation's ties with Taiwan. Russia last used its veto in April 2004 on a Cyprus resolution for technical reasons.

Today's draft resolution calls on Myanmar to stop military attacks against ethnic minorities ''including widespread rape and other forms of sexual violence.'' The military has run Myanmar since 1962, ignoring a 1990 landslide election victory by the National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, who has been in prison or under house arrest since then. Thousands of her supporters have been jailed.

The resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back to the council within six months and underlines ''the need for tangible progress in the overall situation in Myanmar in order to minimize the risks to peace and security in the region.'' The earlier US draft expressed grave concern ''that the overall situation in Myanmar has deteriorated and poses serious risks to peace and security in the region.'' The measure calls for the release of Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners and allows her party and all other groups to operate freely. It says Myanmar should begin ''without delay'' a political dialogue that would ''lead to a genuine democratic transition.'' The draft also asks the government to allow international humanitarian organizations ''to operate without restrictions'' and cooperate with the International Labor Organization to eradicate forced labor.

REUTERS BDP BD2342

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