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The Last bite of military dog.

Three NLD offices shut in Myanmar, coercion blamed
04:31 a.m. Nov 11, 1998 Eastern

YANGON, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Myanmar's state media said on Wednesday three
townshipoffices of the main opposition party had closed down voluntarily,
but diplomats and the opposition blamed intimidation by the military

The state-owned Myanma News Agency said members of the National League for
Democracy in Bilin township in southern Mon State had resigned from the
party on November 9.

They did so ``of their own volition...since they no longer wished to
continue to part in the NLD's political activities,'' the report said.

Earlier the agency said two other township offices -- in Thanbyuzayat in Mon
State andSittway in Rakhine State bordering Bangladesh -- had dissolved
themselves for the same reasons.

The NLD has blamed coercion for the closures and said the dissolutions had
taken place without the knowledge of party headquarters.

A diplomat contacted in Yangon from Bangkok said the members of the township
offices were likely to have been forced to close.

``The standard way is that the government will put pressure on people to
shut down their offices, usually in subtle and fairly indirect ways.''

NLD members and their relatives could find themselves blacklisted for jobs
and their children discriminated against at school, the diplomat said.

It was unclear if those NLD members reported to have resigned were among the
hundreds the government has ``invited for exchanges of views'' at state
guest houses over the past two months.

A government statement on Wednesday said 27 more of these had been released,
bringing the number freed so far to 335.

However, the Central Executive Committee of the NLD said in a statement that
920 of its members, including 183 elected representatives, were in detention
as of November 10.

Most have been detained since an NLD committee announced in mid-September it
would act for a parliament elected in the country's last national election
eight years ago.

The NLD, which is led by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, won
the election by a landslide but the military has not allowed it to govern.

In recent weeks the state media have given prominence to pro-government
rallies in 190 towns and cities around the country, which have called for
the disbanding of the NLD and deportation of Suu Kyi.

The government has said it is dealing leniently with the party but has
warned it may be forced to take stronger action if it endangers national
unity and state security.