Merkel calls on Myanmar to free political prisoners

31st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged the new civilian government in Myanmar to release political prisoners as she spoke by phone with pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Berlin said.

Both expressed hope that the new government, which took over on Wednesday from the military junta but remains dominated by the army hierarchy, would "free all political prisoners, introduce a peace and reconciliation process, and fully recognize political parties, including the National League for Democracy led by Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi", according to a statement from Merkel's office.

Suu Kyi told Merkel she wanted to engage in dialogue with the new government, while Merkel spoke of her support for the 65-year-old leading opposition figure, who was released last year from house arrest, and for "the democratisation process" in Myanmar.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for "inclusive dialogue" on broad political and economic reforms and said the new government must answer "the longstanding aspirations of the Myanmar people for national reconciliation, democratization and respect for human rights remains."

Wednesday's government handover came after Myanmar's first elections in 20 years last November which were slammed by critics as a sham to provide a civilian facade to army rule. Suu Kyi did not take part in the poll.

The European Union is to decide in April whether to continue sanctions imposed against the military in Myanmar.

© 2011 AFP

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