Thu 28 Oct 2004
Filed under: International,News
Indonesia: The European Union on Thursday urged Asian nations to pressure Myanmar to enact democratic reforms put in doubt by the sacking of a moderate prime minister and the continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since the ouster of Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt earlier this month, top junta leader Lt. Gen. Thein Sein has promised that the government will reconvene a national convention to draft a new constitution in early 2005
– the first step in a seven-point plan that is supposed to lead to elections in the military-ruled country.
Nevertheless, the EU will maintain penalties against Myanmar, said Bernard Bot, president of the EU Council of Ministers.
“We will continue the sanction regime and continue to ask our Asian partners to be helpful in convincing the government in (Myanmar) to mend its ways, release Aung Sang Suu Kyi and allow her party to participate in the congress taking place at the moment,” Bot, who also is the Dutch foreign minister, said after meeting his Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirajuda.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is boycotting the national convention because the government refuses to release Suu Kyi from house arrest. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been in detention since May last year, when the military cracked down on her party after a violent clash between her followers and government supporters.
“EU policy is one of keeping up the pressure and we hope we will get support from our Asian partners,” he said.
Wirajuda did not comment on Myanmar during a joint news conference.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962. The current junta called elections in 1990, but refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory.
A power shuffle earlier this month replaced the relatively moderate Khin Nyunt with hardline Lt. Gen. Soe Win — a move seen as a blow to prospects for reforms and for the release of Suu Kyi.
Earlier this week, some regional lawmakers said they may ask that Myanmar be suspended from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations if it does not speed up democratic reforms.