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Burma generals spurn Suu Kyi's conc

Subject: Burma generals spurn Suu Kyi's concerns

Burma generals spurn Suu Kyi's concerns

      By Deborah Charles 

    RANGOON, Dec 7 (Reuter) - Burma's enigmatic generals have proved once
again that they and their regime cannot be read like an open book. 

    Less than five months after shocking the world with a conciliatory
gesture by unconditionally releasing Burma's most famous political prisoner
-- Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi -- the military government has
returned to confrontation. 

    Recent indications include harsh verbal attacks on pro-democracy
supporters, intimidation and a dogged determination to continue a
constitution-writing process widely regarded as a farce. 

    Brigadier General David Abel, Minister for National Planning and Economic
Development, said in a recent interview foreign investors would flock to
Burma despite the political and human rights problems because they want to
make money. 

    ``Money motivates men. Big businessmen, their motivation is to make
money,'' he told Reuters. ``If they can make money, why not? They are not
worried about what politicians say.'' 

    Abel also dismissed Suu Kyi's calls to foreign investors and
international organisations to refrain from investing in Burma while it
remains undemocratically-led.    CONSTITUTION PROCESS SEEN TO SHORE UP

    Critics say the only goal of the constitution-drafting process is to
consolidate the military's grip on power in Burma. 

    Their complaints, however, have gone unheeded by the ruling State Law and
Order Council (SLORC), which took power in 1988 after brutally supressing
democracy uprisings that left thousands imprisoned or dead. 

    Opposition members, dissidents and some foreign governments have publicly
deplored the SLORC's constitution-writing exercise, saying it was

    ``Our intention is always to find the way that is the most beneficial to
the people of the country,'' Suu Kyi, 50, told reporters recently as she
announced her National League for Democracy (NLD) party had decided to pull
out of the constitutional talks. 

    ``We cannot in all honour support a National Convention which is not
heading for what the people want, which is not in any way desirous of
bringing about national reconciliation, multi-party democracy or a
constitution that will be acceptable to all the people of our country.'' 

    The NLD has participated in previous sessions of the constitutional
talks, as the only elected representatives, but has repeatedly called for
changes to the process. 

    The national convention, which is drafting guidelines for a new
constitution, has met sporadically since January 1993 and convenes at the
whim of the SLORC. 

    Among other things, the constitution calls for the military to play a key
role in a future democratic government. 

    The SLORC said it will continue with the convention, now attended by
about 550 delegates who are almost all hand-picked by the military, despite
the pullout of the NLD's 86 delgates.    GENERALS THREATEN TO ANNIHILATE

    SLORC lashed out at the NLD and at Suu Kyi in particular for leaving the
talks, warning of dire consequences for anyone who tries to disrupt Burma's
national unity. 

    A senior SLORC and army official, Lieutenant General Tin Oo, recently
said the armed forces would ``resolutely take action against and annihilate
those who mar or disturb the interest of the entire nation.'' 

    Another SLORC official had already said the NLD and Suu Kyi were trying
to disrupt Burma. 

    The warning of ``annhilation'' was repeated in a toughly-worded criticism
of Suu Kyi and her party in a commentary published in state-run newspapers
which are often seen as the mouthpiece of the government. 

    The United States government and some other foreign diplomats publicly
supported the NLD's withdrawal, and called for an end to attacks on the

    ``We and other governments have noted that...the National
Convention...does not offer the opposition a meaningful opportunity to
participate in the crucial decisions that will determine Burma's political
future,'' a White House statement said after the NLD boycott was announced. 

    ``We urge the (SLORC) to recognise that public discussion in an
environment free of intimidation is critical to the healthy functioning of
any political system. We further urge the authorities to avoid threats or
other measures against those who seek freely to express their views,'' it

    The tougher attitude toward pro-democracy supporters appears to have
given new life to the battered and fledgling opposition. 

    The NLD, which won a 1990 general election by a landslide, was never
allowed to govern and the SLORC tried to repress the movement by arresting or
intimidating many senior members. 

    Suu Kyi, who was released from six years of house arrest in July, has
said the manner in which the SLORC is conducting constitutional talks will
show to the world that it has no real intention of allowing true democracy to
return to Burma. 

    Diplomats say Suu Kyi, who since her release has unsuccessfully called
for dialogue with the government to find a way to bring democracy to Burma,
may have made these comments only because she felt there was no other option
open to her. 

    Suu Kyi's resurgence comes at a time when diplomats, some dissidents and
opposition members speculate that she has lost some of her fight after six
years of house arrest. 

    They said before the boycott announcement that the SLORC appeared to be
winning its game of ignoring Suu Kyi with the hope that her supporters would
lose interest and decide she has no real power. 

    The Nobel laureate said she realises the government may crack down even
harder or perhaps re-arrest her or other senior party members, but said the
fight had to continue. 

    ``The NLD was not founded because we wanted a nice, cosy niche. We knew
there were dangers involved and we were prepared 

18:37 12-06-95