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UN chief urges Myanmar to respect human rights

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Myanmar on August 30, 2016 ©Kirill Kudryavtsev (AFP)

August 29, 2016

Myanmar's new leadership must overcome discrimination and promote inclusive development with "full respect" for human rights, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday on the eve of a visit to the country.

Ban said elections last November, won overwhelmingly by Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, had opened the way to include various ethnic groups in Myanmar's newfound democracy.

The recent setting up of an advisory panel on Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state headed by former UN chief Kofi Annan is an "encouraging step", Ban said, speaking in Singapore at an event organised by the Singapore Management University at the start of a two-day visit to the city-state.

Annan will advise Myanmar's new government on resolving conflicts in Rakhine, a region divided on religious grounds and home to the stateless Muslim Rohingya.

"The new leadership must now overcome discrimination, ensure equality and promote inclusive development for all, with full respect for human rights," Ban added.

The UN chief will arrive in Myanmar on Tuesday for talks with Suu Kyi, the de facto prime minister who is leading reforms after decades of military rule.

He will address a peace conference organised by Suu Kyi that aims to bring ethnic rebel groups to the table to end decades of fighting.

Ban will also meet President Htin Kyaw, General Ming Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of Myanmar's armed forces, and other political and civil society representatives.

The United Nations has criticised Myanmar's treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority, who are denied citizenship and have been living in squalid displacement camps.

Ban will call on Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday before flying to Myanmar.

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