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NLD Update,2

(Recasts with latest rally, new quotes)
By Deborah Charles
RANGOON, May 28 (Reuter) - Burma's military government stepped up the
pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday by staging a second mass rally to
denounce her just as she unveiled a series of proposals to further her quest
for democracy.
Some 40,000 people joined in a government-sponsored rally in western Rangoon
on Tuesday. This was the second large rally in two days where people chanted
slogans to denounce traitorous acts by the democracy camp to destabilise the
The rallies were intended to support the government's current "constructive
activities" and to condemn traitors, an information ministry source said.
More rallies are planned over the next few day, he said.
Government-sponsored rallies are often staged, with the military forcing
people to attend, diplomats say.
Earlier on Tuesday the government lashed out at Suu Kyi and the NLD in
official media, saying they should be regarded as "public enemies" and
"crushed" for trying to destabilise the country.
The rallies and verbal attacks came just as a controversial three-day
meeting of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was coming to
a close with the party approving a series of measures likely to infuriate
the military government.
Suu Kyi said party delegates approved proposals to allow senior members to
draw up a draft constitution and proposed a constitutional conference in the
future that represented the people of Burma.
The NLD angered the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
last November when it pulled out of government-sponsored talks to draft a
new constitution.
The NLD said the talks of mostly SLORC-appointed delegates, which have been
going on intermittently since 1993, did not represent the will of the people.
Suu Kyi said the NLD also wants any future government to be ruled by an
elected parliament, with the armed forces taking an "honourable" but not a
leading role. The government constitution calls for military to play a
leading role in a new government.
When asked about the rallies planned by the SLORC, Suu Kyi dismissed them as
organised by the authorities and "awash with hatred and vindictiveness."
"It's very funny. They were supposed to be people's rallies. In that case, I
think we should also be allowed to go out and have a large people's rally in
the open field," she said.
"If these are really people's rallies...that means all the people are free
to go and have a rally. Actually of course they are all organised by the
Large public gatherings are not permitted by the SLORC without approval.
Every weekend, thousands of people gather outside the gates of Suu Kyi's
house to hear her speak, but so far the government has not put a stop to them.
Suu Kyi also said the NLD passed resolutions urging the SLORC to release all
political prisoners and to free the 261 NLD members it detained last week in
an effort to scuttle the party congress.
The SLORC says it has not arrested the NLD members, but only detained them
for questioning temporarily in an attempt to avoid "anarchy" or unrest that
could have resulted from the congress.
NLD deputy secretary general Tin Oo said at least nine of the NLD members
had now been charged by the goverment, which likely meant they were going to
be held for a long time.  
(c) Reuters Limited 1996

JAKARTA, May 28 (Reuter) - 

ASEAN Secretary-General Ajit Singh said on Tuesday officials were discussing
the timing of a visit Burma had invited him to pay to Rangoon."The
government of Myanmar (Burma) has invited me to pay an official visit to
Yangon (Rangoon). We are currently working out the details," he told an
Indonesian Executive Circle lunch of diplomats and business leaders. The
chief executive of the seven-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations
later told Reuters he expected to make the trip "in the latter part of the
year". An ASEAN official said the Burmese government had extended the
invitation last year. Singh declined to comment on the current confrontation
in Burma between its military rulers and the opposition National League for
Democracy other than to say: "As far as ASEAN is concerned, we do not
interfere in each other's internal affairs...that is a basic tenet of
ASEAN." He said Burma was expected to get observer status in the 19-nation
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) -- set up to promote regional security -- at a
ministerial meeting in Jakarta in July. Singh said Burma had applied for
observer status with ASEAN itself with the intention of eventual membership.
Thailand is the only ASEAN member to have commented officially on the
confrontation between Burma's military rulers and the NLD, headed by Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman last
week expressed concern over the crackdown on the opposition in Burma. Other
ASEAN members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and

(c) Reuters Limited 1996

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Reuter) - Burma's neighbours should break their
silence on mass political arrests by Rangoon's military government,
Malaysia's opposition leader said on Tuesday.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should "add their voice
to the international demand for the immediate release of all political
detainees", said Parliamentary Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang of the
Democratic Action Party.
"The continued silence of the ASEAN governments to the latest crackdown
against pro-democracy leaders in Myanmar (Burma) would be construed as
support and sympathy for the Myanmar military junta's policy of repression,"
Lim said in a statement.
Of the seven ASEAN members -- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam -- only Thailand has voiced concern over the
arrests and their political consequences.
Western countries condemned last week's arrest of more than 250 Burmese
dissidents by the military government, which had sought to block a three-day
party congress of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League of Democracy.
Suu Kyi ended the congress on Tuesday with the party adopting a series of
resolutions that could infuriate the govrnment.
Last year, Burma took the first step towards ASEAN membership by acceding to
its founding treaty. ASEAN leaders said they hoped Burma would join by the
end of the decade.
ASEAN members make a point of not criticising each other.
ASEAN Secretary-General Ajit Singh on Tuesday declined to comment on the
current confrontation in Burma other than to say: "As far as ASEAN is
concerned, we do not interfere in each other's internal affairs...that is a
basic tenet of ASEAN."  
(c) Reuters Limited 1996

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