Tue 30 Nov 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Vientiane: Myanmar’s (Burma’s) Prime Minister Soe Win would not confirm during bilateral talks with Thailand on Tuesday reports that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest had been extended for one year, officials said.
“The Myanmar prime minister did not confirm the news report yesterday that the period of house arrest for Aung San Suu Kyi would be extended for one year, but that he would check and keep Thailand informed,” said Jakrapob
Penkair, spokesman for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin met with Soe Win Tuesday morning on the sidelines of the 10th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) being held in Vientiane.
Sources from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Monday said Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since last May, would have her detention period extended for one year.
Indonesia, which has been at the forefront of efforts within ASEAN to pressure Myanmar to hasten its democratization process and in particular, to free Suu Kyi, said the news of her extended detention appeared to contradict Myanmar’s past public statements.
“We contrast this news to public commitments Myanmar has made in the past on lifting restrictions on Madam Aung San Suu Kyi both nationally and regionally within ASEAN,” said Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa.
“This news about the extension of her detention seems inconsistent with these developments,” Marty told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Indonesia was instrumental in pushing through an ASEAN Security Community pact, signed at the summit in Vientiane, that calls for progress within the 10-country grouping in political and human rights in the region.
The unconfirmed news of Suu Kyi’s extended detention has proven an embarrassment for Myanmar’s Southeast Asian partners meeting in Vientiane as it seems to confirm ASEAN’s failure to use persuasion to hasten political reforms in Myanmar, which joined the grouping in 1997.
Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win told a press conference here that there would be no changes to Myanmar’s domestic and foreign policies despite last month’s sacking of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, deemed by many to be a moderate force within Myanmar’s military regime.
Thaksin informed Soe Win that he fully supported Myanmar’s total national reconciliation process, a seven-step game plan that includes the writing of a new constitution and the holding of a general election at an unspecified date.
Myanmar is scheduled to host the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2006.
“The release of political figures in Myanmar is an important factor to arrive at total national reconciliation,” said Jakrapob.
“We belive that within two years there will be major political
developments in Myanmar, so the hosting of ASEAN in two years time should be no problem,” he added.