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Sydney Morning Herald 5/29
- Subject: Sydney Morning Herald 5/29
- From: mcs@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 09:27:00
May 29, 1996
Suu Kyi's national blueprint excludes military
By MARK BAKER, Herald Correspondent in Rangoon
The Burmese democracy leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, announced plans
yesterday to draft a new constitution denying a central political role to
the armed forces.
In a fresh challenge to the ruling military junta, Ms Suu Kyi said the
constitution would guarantee the supremacy of an elected parliament and
confine the role of the armed forces to national defence.
Closing a three-day congress of her National League for Democracy (NLD),
Ms Suu Kyi called on the junta to honour her party's 1990 election victory
and release all political prisoners.
More than 260 NLD MPs and supporters arrested in the past week in an
attempt to stop the congress are still being detained. Only one, a female
member of the party's youth wing, has been released.
Party officials say some of the detainees have been moved to Rangoon's
notorious Insein Prison and 10 of them - including Ms Suu Kyi's private
secretary, Mr Win Htein - have been charged under tough internal security
laws which provide for long jail sentences.
The NLD's plan to draft a constitution is a direct challenge to the regime's
moves over the past two years to prepare a constitution guaranteeing the
military's future grip on power.
The NLD walked out of the regime's constitutional convention last year
after it rubber-stamped measures reserving a quarter of the
parliamentary seats for the armed forces, allowing the military to
control the election of a president and barring Ms Suu Kyi from national
Ms Suu Kyi said yesterday that the NLD congress accepted the armed
forces were "a necessary national institution" but that their role must be
subservient to the Parliament.
"The armed forces should be an honourable institution which will take
care of the defence of this nation and help to bring about democracy," she
Ms Suu Kyi denied that the party's move was an attempt to confront the
regime and stressed that she wanted a dialogue on restoring democracy.
"Everything is negotiable, but at the end of the day it is the people who
must decide the form of country they want, what kind of political system
they want," she told a news conference.
The congress challenged claims by the regime that NLD members elected
in the party's 1990 landslide victory were no longer entitled to their
parliamentary seats because more than four years had elapsed since the
The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) refused to
accept the results of the election and sentenced many NLD MPs to long
prison terms. Ms Suu Kyi, who had been detained a year earlier, was kept
under house arrest until last July.