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NLD MAY BOYCOTT NTN'L CONVENTION
- Subject: NLD MAY BOYCOTT NTN'L CONVENTION
- From: darnott@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 12:00:00
NLD might boycott Burma convention: Aung San Suu Kyi
by Philip McClellan
RANGOON, Nov 22 (AFP) - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
issued a challenge Wednesday to Burma's military junta, warning
that her National League for Democracy (NLD) might boycott next
week's National Convention.
Speaking to reporters at the lakeside home where she spent
almost six years under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi said that
the main opposition NLD was ready for dialogue but would not
accept the convention as it stood.
"We continue to keep the door open for dialogue and
discussion, but the convention in its present form ... is totally
unacceptable to the vast majority of the people of Burma," she
The remarks by Aung San Suu Kyi -- reinstated as NLD general
secretary in October in a party reshuffle the government rejected
-- were her most direct and critical about the junta since her
release from house arrest in July.
Aung San Suu Kyi said the current set-up of the convention,
which reconvenes Tuesday after a seven-month break, precluded
achieving its professed aim of allowing elected officials to draw
up a constitution democratically.
"The National Convention in its present state cannot assist in
achieving national reconciliation, a genuine multi-party
democracy or a state constitution," she said.
The convention is to draw up a new constitution for Burma,
after which the military junta has said it would hand over power
to a civilian government.
But Aung San Suu Kyi said that the NLD had only been allotted
some 15 percent of the seats at the convention, despite having
overwhelmingly won national elections in 1990.
The results of the 1990 election were ignored by the military
junta, which had seized power in a bloody crackdown on a
pro-democracy movement the previous year. The military insists on
a guiding role in future governments.
Aung San Suu Kyi said the NLD's presence at the National
Convention depended on moves by the junta for dialogue with the
NLD, for which she said the opposition had left "an open door."
"We have to discuss what changes need to be made before the
convention is acceptable to the NLD," she said. "We will take
whatever changes need to be made," she added.
Asked if the NLD would boycott the convention, Aung San Suu
Kyi said that the party had not yet made a final decision, but
added that this did not mean "we will not make the decision if we
think it is right."
She said that since the NLD had the mandate of the people, the
party's voice represented the will of the Burmese people.
"A constitution not supported by the people is just a piece of
paper," she said.
The National Convention "was not democratic and the basic
principles for the proposed constitution include some which are
not (in line) with a truly democratic state," she said.
One of the bills the convention is expected to pass would ban
individuals married to foreigners from becoming prime minister, a
measure apparently aimed at Aung San Suu Kyi, who is marrried to
a British citizen.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who led pro-democracy demonstrations until
confined under house arrest in July 1989, said relations between
the junta and the opposition should improve.
"I think we can only get closer," she said. "I think the NLD
and SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council: the junta's
official name) are so far apart, there is no way they could get
any farther apart."
Burma's Suu Kyi says undecided on constitution
By Aung Hla Tun
RANGOON, Nov 22 (Reuter) - Burmese opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday her National League for Democracy
(NLD) party has not yet decided if it will boycott or join
military-sponsored talks next week to draft a new constitution.
``We have not yet made the decision to boycott the National
Convention,'' Suu Kyi, the 50-year-old secretary general and
co-founder of the NLD, told reporters at a news conference on
the lawn of her lakefront Rangoon home.
Consitutional talks, which have been intermittent since
January 1993, will resume on November 28 when nearly 700
delegates, mostly hand-picked by the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), meet to draw up guidelines for a
The Nobel Peace Prize winner did not say why the NLD had not
decided if it would attend the convention.
``We haven't yet made the decision because we haven't yet
made the decision,'' she said, adding that the party would
reassess the situation before November 28.
``It doesn't mean that we will not make such a decision if
we think it is right. We have left the door open ourselves and
we would like the authority to discuss the way in which the
national convention is being conducted.''
The November 28 talks will be the first on the constitution
since Suu Kyi was released in July from six years of house
arrest. She was detained in 1989 for her outspoken criticism of
the military which killed or imprisoned thousands during
Ever since her release, Suu Kyi has called on SLORC for
dialogue, saying the only way to reach national reconciliation
is through discussion.
``The NLD invites all concerned to join together in mutual
trust and goodwill to work towards building up a genuinely
democratic nation in accordance with the wishes of the people,''
Although the NLD won more than 80 percent of the seats in a
May 1990 election, SLORC ignored the results, saying a new
constitution had to be drawn up before any transfer of power to
a civilian government could be considered.
But the NLD says the SLORC-sponsored constitutional talks
are not democratic.
``The NLD as the political party that has received the
mandate of the people has a duty to point out that its
expectations with regard to the National Convention have not
been realised,'' Suu Kyi said, reading from an NLD statement.
``If the National Convention continues in its present form
it cannot assist in achieving national reconciliation, genuine
multi-party democracy, or a state constitution that enjoys the
support and confidence of the people,'' she added.
But Suu Kyi was also careful not to reject the constitution
outright, saying she and the NLD objected to its present form.
Among the principles already agreed to by the convention is
that the military retains a ``leading role'' in future politics.
Other sections rule out the chance of Suu Kyi ever having an
opportunity to lead the country because she has lived abroad
during the past 20 years and is married to a foreigner.