Thu 30 Mar 2006
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, has received the first indication that the junta may not accept the proposal it made last month to end its long-running political standoff.
The NLD on February 12 announced for the first time it would recognize the State Peace and Development Council as an interim ruling body ahead of the formation of a democratic parliament, should the junta accept. Part of the proposal includes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and her participation in discussions between the NLD and the government that would take place during this transitional period.
However, an article in the Burmese edition of state-run The New Light of Myanmar yesterday that also appeared in the English version of the newspaper today, suggests the government is unlikely to accept the NLD’s proposal.
â€œThe NLD announcement is not new,â€ the piece says. â€œIt is questionable if the NLD announcement is a flexible policy or not for democratic transition in Myanmar [Burma].â€
It continues by saying that the NLD must first abandon its calls for economic boycotts by other countries, arguing that Burma cannot expect democratic progress without first experiencing economic development and stability. Efforts to dislodge the government had resulted in the perpetrators being â€œput behind bars,â€ it admitted.
â€œNational reconciliation cannot be achieved through any kind of pressure, and the dialogue cannot yield results unless the NLD reconsiders and addresses its own problems that make the negotiations between the Tatmadaw government and the NLD impossible,â€ it adds.
Entitled â€œFlexibility or Trickery,â€ the article was written by Kyaw Myint Naing, a well-known contributor to The New Light of Myanmar, who has published a number of pieces criticizing the NLD, including one entitled “Negotiation is NOT the solution for Burma’s democracy.”
New York-based Human Rights Watch has previously suggested that Kyaw Myint Naing is the pen name of a senior military official, although the chief editor of The New Light of Myanmar, Maung Maung Aye, today refused to confirm this, saying his identity was â€œa secret.â€
Asked whether the piece reflected government policy and therefore the junta would not accept the NLD’s request, Maung Maung said â€œour newspaper is a government-owned newspaperâ€ without elaborating further.
Such articles in Burma’s state-run press-which is directly controlled by the Ministry of Information-are usually considered highly representative of the government’s thinking. The NLD acknowledged as much today, saying it was the first feedback it had received from the government on the requests made last month.
Spokesperson Myint Thein said the NLD still expects an official response from the junta ahead of the deadline it set for April 17, Burma’s New Year Day.
â€œWe want to compromise with them so we are calling for dialogue alwaysâ€¦we very much welcome dialogue. If we have a dialogue we can discuss everything and be flexible,â€ he said. â€œThere is no trickery, we are just hoping for the country’s and the people’s future.â€