As Group of Friends on Myanmar Meets, UK Perm Rep Doesn’t Friend Them
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July 8 — In the run up to the trip to Myanmar by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his envoy Ibrahim Gambari, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons that the UK had urged Ban to go to Burma. The trip took place; General Than Shwe rejected Ban’s request to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi; nearly everyone called the endeavor a failure.
With Ban still out of New York, at the G-8 meetings in Italy, Gambari descended to the UN basement on July 8 to brief the 14 countries on Ban’s Group of Friends on Myanmar. Notably, UK Permanent Representative John Sawers was not present, unlike his counterparts from Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, among others. Some some suspected Facebook fallout — and joked of Sawers not “friending” the Group — others questioned the UK being so loud before the trip, and so quiet afterwards, at least in public.
Gambari, normally affable, rushed into the meeting room. UN staff have confirmed to Inner City Press that Than Shwe in a fit of pique made Gambari travel to the country’s jungle capital by road, rather than by air. Reportedly, surrounded by the Ban-selected scribes on this most recent trip, Gambari wished for the presence of other reporters, to witness the indignities and discomforts that he has been going through.
There was also the report — an exclusive by Inner City Press — that Gambari’s name was offered by Ban as a possible replacement for Rodolphe Adada in Darfur, but that some Western powers rejected it. A subsequent candidate Said Djinnit earlier on June 8 thanked Inner City Press for not asking publicly about the Darfur post, at least not during his press conference on West Africa (Inner City Press’ report on West Africa is forthcoming.) continue