A top UN official urged Burma Friday to ensure that a new reform drive benefits citizens of the impoverished nation in areas such as healthcare and education.
Vijay Nambiar, special adviser to the UN chief on Burma, made the appeal at the end of a five-day visit during which he met key figures including President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Nearly one year after a quasi-civilian government took over from outright military rule, Nambiar praised the changes under way, which have “attained an unprecedented level of initiative,” a UN press release said.
The priorities he highlighted on his visit included credible by-elections in April, peace with ethnic rebel groups and deliverance on the needs of the people, “so that they start benefiting in real terms from the reforms so far”.
“Health, education and job creation remain key responsibilities for both central and local authorities in order to empower people to participate fully and equitably in the country’s development and growth,” said the statement.
Only with “sound economic policies” can the change “be accelerated in the interest of the entire population of Myanmar [Burma],” it added.
The new regime — dominated by former generals — has begun to usher in a string of reforms, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners.
The progress has been hailed by Western powers who are mulling easing sanctions on Burma, which remains one of the world’s most isolated and least developed countries despite a wealth of natural resources.