Monday, June 01, 2009

Burma: Burma's government in exile changing its strategy

Burma's government in exile says it is changing its strategy to reach democracy, following the military government's decision to prosecute Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Tensions in Rangoon are reported to be rising as the trial progresses.

The government in exile, the National Coalition Government for the Union of Burma, says it will announce its new strategy for a transitional process to democracy in late June. It says the trial of opposition-leader Aung San Suu Kyi has undermined the credibility of the military's planned 2010 elections.

A representative for the government in exile, Thaung Htun, says the new plan will ask all stakeholders to to join a credible political process."

"Aung San Suu Kyi is the key partner for dialogue, the key person for reconciliation," said Thaung Htun. "The regional players in the international community should say in one voice that 2010 election planned by the regime - if it is not inclusive - if it excludes Aung San Suu Kyi and other key ethnic leaders and the key stakeholders - that stand has to be made clear. After that in cooperation with the U.N. Secretary General, the regional players should have to push for a real inclusive democratic transition in Burma."

Thaung Htun says tensions are rising in Rangoon before the verdict, amid stepped up security and fears of public unrest if Aung San Suu Kyi is found guilty. She is charged for breaching her house detention order. The case is seen as a pretext for extending her detention and preventing her from participating in next year's elections.

On Sunday, the military government defended its prosecution of Aung SanSuu Kyi, saying that no one in the country is "above the law" and warned other countries against "meddling in the internal affairs of Burma".

Diplomatic efforts to pressure Burma's military towards reform and to release political prisoners have accelerated with the trial.

Several countries, including the United States and the European Union, have sanctions imposed on the military, while a broad range of countries, including Asian states, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and and the Philippines have called for Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

A verdict in her case is expected Friday. If found guilty the 1991 Nobel laureate faces up to five years in jail. She has spent 13 of the past 19 years under detention.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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