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It appears, however, that last week's military action has already largely succeeded in dispersing the crowds from the streets.

 

The military lightened its presence in Yangon on Tuesday as the country's biggest city remained quiet after last week's demonstrations.

 
"Normalcy has now returned in Myanmar," Nyan Win, the country's foreign minister, told the UN General Assembly's ministerial meeting on Monday.
 
'Neo-colonialists' blamed
 
He accused "political opportunists" backed by foreign powers of trying to derail its move towards a "disciplined democracy".
 

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He said "neo-colonialists" - a reference to the US and other Western nations – were spreading disinformation that Myanmar's government was committing gross human rights violations and imposing economic sanctions.
 
"Recent events make clear that there are elements within and outside the country who wish to derail the ongoing process [towards democracy] so that they can take advantage of the chaos that would follow," he said.
 
The foreign minister said "political opportunists" exploited a small protest against the rise in fuel prices and "sought to turn the situation into a political showdown aided and abetted by some powerful countries".
 

The minister made no mention of the deaths or injuries in the crackdown against the pro-democracy demonstrators by the country's security forces, but tightly controlled state media has reported 10 killed.

 

Dissident groups say up to 200 protesters were slain and that 6,000 were detained.

 

Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, said his government believed at least 30 people had been killed and about 1,400 arrested.

 

'Disciplined democracy'

 

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Nyan Win said: "The Myanmar government is fully aware of its responsibility to lead the nation in the process of transformation to a disciplined democracy.

 

"We have laid down a road map and will work conscientiously to achieve our goals. Significant progress has already been made.

 
"The international community can best help Myanmar by showing greater understanding. They can begin by refraining from measures which would result in adding fuel to the fire," he said to applause from representatives of some countries.