Key nations want Myanmar’s government to give all people the opportunity to participate freely in upcoming elections, including political prisoners and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the UN chief has said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to reporters after a meeting of the Group of Friends of Myanmar to discuss the country’s new electoral laws, which have been widely criticized as designed to keep Suu Kyi out of the race.

The group includes about 15 countries, including Myanmar’s neighbours, interested Asian and European nations, and the five permanent UN Security Council members: the US, Russia, China, Britain and France.

Ban said the group believes inclusive elections are necessary to advance the prospects of stability, democracy and development in the country.

“The government must create conditions that give all stakeholders the opportunity to participate freely in elections,” Ban said yesterday. “This includes the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and respect for fundamental freedoms.”

The secretary-general said it’s “frustrating and disappointing” that the country’s military ruler, Senior Gen.

Than Shwe, has moved very slowly to implement commitments he made during their meeting last July including the release of political prisoners and Suu Kyi.

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