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Myanmar junta allows opposition to

 FOCUS-Myanmar junta allows opposition to meet 
10:34 a.m. May 26, 1998 Eastern 

By Rajan Moses on Tuesday said in a surprise statement that it would allow
the opposition National League for Democracy to hold a gathering from May
27-28 to mark its unrecognised 1990 election victory. 

The ruling military State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) said in a
statement that permission for the gathering had been granted. It overrode a
Sunday SPDC statement which urged the NLD not to hold the gathering to
preserve peace. 

``The authorities concerned approved their (NLD) request and informed the
NLD to conduct the ceremony in accordance with existing rules and
regulations,'' the government statement obtained by Reuters said. 

If the gathering goes ahead, it will be the first time the military has
allowed the opposition to mark the anniversary of the elections. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the opposition had said that the NLD was going ahead
with the plan to hold the gathering at the Yangon lakeside residence of NLD
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, despite government warnings on Sunday that they
should refrain from holding the meeting. 

``We have got confirmation from the NLD (in Yangon) this morning that
despite the ongoing intimidation it will go ahead with its plans for the
meeting,'' said Teddy Buri, an elected NLD parliamentarian now living in
exile in Thailand. 

The NLD's sweeping victory in the May 1990 polls was not recognised by the
ruling military junta. 

Suu Kyi -- who has spent much of her time under house arrest since the
elections -- and her party have accused the military of curbing their
political activities, abusing human rights and harassing NLD members. 

On Monday, a government spokesman denied an NLD report that at least 16 NLD
delegates from outlying townships had been detained last week to prevent
them from attending the meeting. 

Last May, when the NLD tried to hold a similar gathering, the military
detained hundreds of its members nationwide and thwarted the gathering. 

Teddy Buri said the political crisis in Indonesia, which led to President
Suharto's ouster, had encouraged pro-democracy activists in Myanmar, but
Suu Kyi was seeking peaceful dialogue with the SPDC. 

``The SPDC should take Indonesia as a good lesson and hold tripartite
dialogue with Suu Kyi and various ethnic groups in the country to avert
violence,'' he added. 

``Suu Kyi and the NLD still believe in peaceful dialogue,'' he added. 

Separately, Suu Kyi said in a statement released on Tuesday through the
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, a non-governmental organisation: ``It
is eight years since the elections have been ignored by the authorities,
but we still stand by the promises that we made to our people.'' 

She added that the NLD preferred to hold peaceful dialogue with the SPDC
and ruled out revenge against the military regime. 

``We want dialogue because we want to find a solution that is best for
everybody, that is to say particularly for the people of Burma (Myanmar)
and for the government,'' Suu Kyi added. 

``We do not want revenge, we do not think there is anything particularly
honourable or admirable in seeking revenge. We want to find a peaceful
settlement'' she said. 

``We think that to accept dialogue would be a display of strength by the
government, to show that they have the strength and the courage to do what
is best for the country,'' she said. 

Suu Kyi has in the past sought dialogue with the military junta but the
SPDC has refused to meet her as an NLD representative.