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It's official: Suu Kyi banned from contesting elections
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    It's official: Suu Kyi banned from contesting elections

    It's official: Suu Kyi banned


    Rangoon - The Burmese junta informed visiting United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari they will not amend a draft constitution to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to contest the planned 2010 polls. On Saturday, Mr Gambari met Mrs Suu Kyi, without result.

    Reports from official media on Saturday said the the military regime turned down a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that the regime amend the new constitution to "ensure inclusiveness."

    Information Minister Brigadier-General Kyaw Hsan gave Gambari a long lecture on Friday, which was printed in all state-controlled media.

    "The Constitution has already been drafted and it should not be amended again," Kyaw Hsan said.

    Gambari met with the Nobel peace prize laureate and other executives in her National League for Democracy (NLD) party at the Sein Le Kan Tha State Guest House for about 90 minutes.

    The content of their discussion was not immediately known, but it did nothing to change the minds of the military dictators and allow her to contest a general election planned in 2010.

    In a letter dated February 19 to Burma's military supremo Senior General Than Shwe, the UN secretary general called for an amendment to the current draft constitution that would drop a clause excluding all Burmese nationals married to foreigners from running for election.

    Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate who has been under house arrest since May, 2003, was married to the late Michael Aris, a British professor at Oxford University.

    The new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, will be voted on in a referendum in May, this year.

    It is widely expected that the constitution will be approved by the referendum, which is expected to be manipulated.

    The referendum is part of the regime's so-called "seven-step road map" to democracy that will culminate in a general election now scheduled in 2010.

    Critics have faulted the constitution-drafting process for failing to include input from the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Suu Kyi and other opponents to the regime, leading the UN to call the document a "sham."

    Kyaw Hsan faulted the UN for being biased against the regime, which only last September cracked down on anti-military protests led by Buddhist monks, leaving at least 31 people led.

    The information minister noted that the world community has not objected to Thailand's new constitution, passed last year, despite the lack of participation by Thai opposition parties in the drafting process, nor the recent constitutions passed in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the lack of participation by their opponents, including Moslem militants with al-Qaeda links and the Taliban, respectively.

    "We haven't heard any objection to these events by those persons and organisations who are objecting to us," said Kyaw Hsan. "It is not fair. The United Nations should stand fair and square without bias.

    He also criticised Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, for turning down the regime's request that she openly oppose western sanctions on Burma as a precondition for holding talks with her.

    "Although we have opened the door for 'win-win' situation, NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are refusing to join hands," Kyaw Hsan said.

    He urged the visiting envoy to support the junta's "seven step" road map and stop pursuing alternatives suggested by western democracies.

    "We shall not accept any attempt to hinder or reverse the process of the seven-step Road Map. However, we will heartily welcome the positive suggestions of the UN to help implement the seven-step Road Map," Kyaw Hsan concluded.

    Gambari reportedly promised to onpass the minister's "clarification" to the UN the Secretary-General.

    Gambari, who arrived in Rangoon on Thursday, was scheduled to meet with NLD members Saturday morning. It is anticipated that he will soon hold talks with Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in her Rangoon home for almost four years. (dpa)

    Bangkok Post

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    Re: It's official: Suu Kyi banned from contesting elections

    Burma rejects outside election observers

    Rangoon - The ruling military junta on Saturday rejected a proposal for foreign observers at a referendum set for May, and said democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was out of all elections plans.

    The rejection came just hours after UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was allowed to meet the detained Nobel peace prize winner and top leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

    Gambari offered UN technical assistance and help with facilitating observers at the planned referendum when he met on Friday with members of the commission tasked with organising the vote, according to state television.

    Thaung Nyung, a member of the commission, rejected the offer, saying the referendum was a domestic affair.

    "We have enough experience, but we take note of your offer," Thaung Nyung said, according to state television late Saturday.

    "Holding the referendum on the constitution is within the country's sovereignty," he said. "For internal affairs in the past, we have never had observers from outside."

    The commission answered few of Gambari's questions about the referendum and declined to give an exact date for the balloting, saying only that it would take place on a single day, state television reported. (Agencies)

    Bangkok post

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