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Reuters-Mandela would consider Myan
- Subject: Reuters-Mandela would consider Myan
- From: tinkyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 08:21:00
Subject: Reuters-Mandela would consider Myanmar mediation-diplomat
Mandela would consider Myanmar mediation-diplomat
07:09 a.m. Jun 15, 1999 Eastern
By David Brunnstrom
BANGKOK, June 15 (Reuters) - South Africa's Nelson Mandela would consider
acting as a mediator to break a deadlock between Myanmar's ruling military
and his fellow Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a South African
diplomat said on Tuesday.
But the outgoing president would need a formal request from Suu Kyi's
pro-democracy opposition, said the Bangkok-based diplomat, who preferred not
to be identified by name.
``He has indicated he is willing to act as an international peacemaker, and
the Burma issue is one of concern not only to South Africa but to the
international community,'' he said.
``Maybe the opposition should be seriously considering making a concerted
effort to deliver a serious message of invitation.''
The diplomat said the request could come from Suu Kyi or Myanmar's
pro-democracy movement as a whole and would need to make clear exactly what
Mandela was expected to do.
``It would be a bit broad to say 'come and act as an intermediary' while the
lines are not drawn,'' he said.
``If in his mind he feels he has to act on it and has the resources to do
so, then he will. But it's better if we don't put the cart before the horse
and say he definitely will -- it would pretty unfair to start raising
The diplomat said the invitation of Myanmar's powerful military intelligence
chief Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt for Wednesday's South African
presidential inauguration could be looked upon as movement towards such a
role for Mandela.
This invitation has raised eyebrows among pro-democracy activists given
widespread criticism of Myanmar's human rights record which has provoked
U.S. and EU sanctions.
``They should see this as a first step of not necessarily embracing the
military junta officials -- no way, we can't do that -- but with a view to
opening up some kind of negotiations on behalf of the Burmese,'' the
He said South Africa had been under no obligation to invite Khin Nyunt and
the move could be compared to the contacts it established with Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi -- something that provoked Western anger but helped resolve
the impasse over the 1998 Lockerbie airline bombing.
``Now everybody's moving into Libya wanting to invest and make business,''
the diplomat said. ``The belief in South Africa is that there is no need to
isolate someone, to demonise a government if the channel to negotiating a
peaceful settlement exists.
``Let's monitor the situation, then maybe six months down the line we'll say
'oh maybe that's why they invited these people'.''
Myanmar's rulers and Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy have been
locked in a bitter battle of wills since the military bloodily crushed a
pro-democracy uprising in 1988 then ignored the results of a 1990 election
the party won by a landslide.
The two sides blame each other for a lack of dialogue.
Another diplomat suggested Mandela's interest in helping in Myanmar might
stem from shared experiences.
``What Suu Kyi has gone through -- of personal humiliation, and arrest and
all those things -- is something that he personally went through. So maybe
in a way there are some similarities, some parallels between their lives.''