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Reuters 5/28 08:07
- Subject: Reuters 5/28 08:07
- From: mcs@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 07:53:00
Tuesday May 28 8:07 AM EDT
Burma Opposition Challenges Army
RANGOON (Reuter) - Burma's revitalised democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi
wrapped up a controversial congress Tuesday with several resolutions likely to
infuriate the country's military rulers.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) resolutions, making good on a promise to step
up the fight for democracy, came as the military government followed up its mass
detentions of NLD supporters by launching public rallies and attacks on Suu Kyi.
Between 300 and 400 NLD members, seemingly oblivious to how the ruling State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) may react, broke into fighting cheers and chants
as they listened to rallying music at the end of the three-day congress.
Their most controversial resolution was likely to be one giving the NLD leadership the
power to draft a new constitution for Burma.
``The conference authorised the executive committee to draw up a constitution for the
future Union of Burma. We must start to work as soon as we can. It doesn't take long to
draw up a constitution if you have the will,'' Suu Kyi told reporters.
The NLD angered the SLORC in November when it pulled out of a government-organised
convention drafting guidelines of a new constitution. It said the convention, meeting
intermittently since January 1993, did not represent the will of the people.
The SLORC sees the convention as the backbone of its plans for the country and has
ordered delegates to enshrine a ``leading role'' for the military in politics.
Suu Kyi said the NLD congress called for a future Burma that would be ruled by a
parliament of elected representatives.
Under the constitution being drafted by the government's convention the ``leading role''
of the armed forces would be backed up by a guaranteed large portion of appointed
seats in parliament.
``We want the army to be an honorable institution responsible for the defense of the
nation and of democratic principles,'' Suu Kyi said of the role of the military in a
When asked if the NLD realised its resolutions were likely to infuriate the SLORC, Suu
Kyi said the military saw everything she and her party did as confrontational.
``There is nothing in the law that says you have no right to draw up a constitution that
you think would be for the good of the country,'' she said.
``They regard everything we do as confrontational. Anything that is not in line with
their politics is regarded as confrontational,'' she said.
Tuesday, the government lashed out at Suu Kyi and the NLD in the state-run media,
calling them ``public enemies'' who should be ``crushed'' for trying to destabilise the
In rallies held Monday and set to continue Tuesday and the rest of the week, tens of
thousands of people chanted slogans calling Suu Kyi and the NLD ``traitors'' and
``enemies,'' state media reported.
Government-organised rallies are often staged in Burma with the military forcing
people to attend, diplomats say.
Suu Kyi, who was released last July after six years of house arrest, said the NLD also
passed resolutions urging the SLORC to release all political prisoners and to free 261
NLD members it detained last week in a bid to scuttle the congress.
The SLORC said it has not arrested the NLD members but only detained them for
questioning temporarily in an effort to avoid anarchy whicb it said could have resulted
from the congress.
NLD deputy secretary general Tin Oo told reporters at least nine of the detained NLD
members had now been charged by the government under sweeping security laws.