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5/26/04 - CONVENTION IN BURMA - 2004-05-26

Burma’s military rulers are holding a convention to write a new constitution. But the Burmese junta has excluded opposition and ethnic group leaders from the process.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the Burmese military junta has failed to take action that would have made it possible for all elements of Burmese society to participate:

“A convention that does not include all of these groups cannot make real progress towards democracy or national reconciliation, nor can it help Burma repair its international reputation. An assembly, such as the convention...that lacks participation by delegates of the democratic opposition, is not truly representative of the people of Burma. It lacks legitimacy and therefore we deplore it.”

Leading democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Sui Kyi remains under house arrest. In 2003, a convoy carrying her and other members of the National League for Democracy was ambushed and she was taken into custody. Mr. Boucher says that the U.S. repeats its call “for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Sui Kyi...and other political prisoners”:

“We have heard a growing chorus of voices from the international community calling for...credibility in the process of national reconciliation in Burma. We note that a number of countries, including countries in the region, have expressed their support for democratic reform in Burma. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also expressed his concern and he has called for the release of National league for Democracy leaders.”

State Department spokesman Boucher says that the U.S. “urges the authorities in Burma to react positively to the concerns of the international community before yet another opportunity to bring peace, security, and prosperity to Burma is lost.”