Myanmar opens final charter talks

Main opposition party boycotts consultations to draft a new constitution.

    Kyaw Hsan said a referendum will be held once
    the charter is drafted [Reuters]

    Thein Sein, the acting prime minister, said the final round will discuss elections, political parties, emergency provisions and procedures for constitutional amendments.
    "This session is the last session," he said.
    Opposition boycott
    Myanmar timeline

    1988: Military crackdown on pro-democracy protests, estimated 3,000 killed


    1989: Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to house arrest for allegedly endangering the state


    1990: NLD wins landslide in national election; military refuses to recognise result


    1991: Suu Kyi awarded Nobel Peace Prize


    1995: Suu Kyi freed, but movements restricted


    1997: Myanmar admitted to Asean


    2000: Suu Kyi sentenced to house arrest for defying travel restrictions


    2002: Suu Kyi released following UN-facilitated secret talks with government


    2003: Government unveils "road map" to democracy; Suu Kyi returned to house arrest after her convoy is attacked in north of country


    2005: Government announces shift to new capital Naypidaw


    2007: Nearly 3,000 prisoners released in amnesty to mark independence anniversary, but no key political figures freed

    The talks resumed without the country's leading opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
    Despite the boycott, the NLD led by Aung San Suu Ky has submitted proposals for a new charter but received no response.
    Thein Nyunt, a party spokesman, said they have been sending proposals to the authorities and the public.
    "We are keeping an eye on the convention and deciding what we should do. We will release our opinion on the constitution when the time comes," he said.
    Military smokescreen
    In May, the military extended Suu Kyi's detention for another year.
    She has spent nearly 12 of the past 17 years under some form of detention.
    Without Suu Kyi's participation, western governments and other critics say the talks are nothing more than a smokescreen for the military to seal its grip on power.
    A key objective of the convention was to ensure a "leadership role" for the army in politics, reserving key cabinet positions and 25 per cent of the seats in a future parliament for serving military officers.
    Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement the generals "have trumpeted the convention as a vehicle for a return to civilian rule and the rule of law".
    "But they have engineered the outcome to ensure the military remains in control and excluded the people of Burma from the process," he added.
    The military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, started the on-off convention process in early 1993 but never committed to a timetable to complete the exercise.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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