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Burma's Military Chief must abandon his old tricks

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Bangkok, October 13 - "With the sanctions hurting directly the military regime's businesses and the country's financial system on the downtrend due to mismanagement, the junta's chief has no other alternative but look for support to the Western Bloc," a Burmese journalist on condition of anonymity commented about the recent meeting of Burmese pro-democracy leader and the Western diplomats.

"Besides, Snr. Gen.Than Shwe is craving to create a good relation with western democracies that will fortify or shield his legality," he said.

On October 9, head of Burma's junta has allowed the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to meet Western diplomats to talk about sanctions imposed against the military regime.

The Nobel Prize winner, who remains under house arrest, was driven to a government guesthouse to meet acting US Charge d'Affaires Thomas Vajda, British Ambassador Andrew Heyn, who represented the European Union (EU) and Australian Deputy Head of Mission Simon Christopher Starr for an hour to discuss the possible lifting of sanctions on Burma.

US Embassy spokesman Drake Weisert, however, told the press, "The meeting follows Aung San Suu Kyi's request in a letter to Senior General Than Shwe to meet representatives of the US and other countries to discuss their relevant policies on sanctions."

The surprise meeting with diplomats followed two sessions of consultation this month between Suu Kyi and the junta's liaison and Labor Minister Aung Kyi, to discuss her September 25th proposal to help end sanctions against the regime.

Senior General Than Shwe:'General elections as scheduled in 2010'

On the same day Aung San Suu Kyi met the western diplomats, Than Shwe, Burma's supreme military commander spoke in the capital, of launching a general election as scheduled in 2010.

Snr-Gen Than Shwe also indicated in his speech that he would not yield to demands from domestic and international critics who say that the country's military-sponsored constitution should be revised ahead of next year's elections.

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The Snr. Gen. said, "The new State constitution has been approved by the great majority," the New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on October 10. "Elections will be systematically held in 2010 " in accord with the constitution."

The 2008 Constitution, the junta said, was "approved" by more than 90 per cent of eligible voters during a referendum in May 2008. The outcome of the referendum was widely dismissed as a sham. But, the regime has constantly ignored calls from the international community and Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to review the constitution.

Although there are 10 registered political parties in Burma, most of them are inactive. The most important thing to be done is to proclaim an electoral law allowing new parties to form and register to contest in the elections. The international community, led by the UN, has constantly stated that the election be all-inclusive, free and fair.

In its 'Shwe-gon-dine declaration' dated 29th April 2009, the NLD set conditions for its participation in the 2010 general election. It requested to make amendment of any provisions in the 2008 constitution which are not in harmony with democratic principles and an all-inclusive free and fair poll under international supervision.

UN Secretary General: 'free Aung San before elections'

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Rights groups have also said that the regime must release all 2,100 political prisoners, including NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, if it wants the elections to be regarded as legitimate.

The election, which would be neither free nor fair in a country long condemned for human rights abuses, was planned following the 2008 constitution, which in effect reinforces the military-control over any democratically elected administration.

The Western democracies and the United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have warned that the world community would not recognize the results of a general election next year unless the NLD participates in the polls and Aung San Suu Kyi is freed from house incarceration, where she has been kept for 14 of the past 20 years.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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