Fri 31 Aug 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
The tortuous 14-year Constitution drafting Convention of the Burmese military junta has finally been wound up today, sources in Rangoon said.
The junta on Friday concluded the first step of its so-called ‘seven-point roadmap to democracy,’ and in a gesture of benevolence, awarded its senior delegates, attending the convention since its inception, permits to import vehicles, the source said.
The junta only gifted permits to those delegates attending the convention since 1993. But delegates attending the convention from 2003 were not similarly treated, the source said.
Under the strictly controlled import regulations, a permit to import cars is highly lucrative.
There was widespread resentment and discontent among the convention delegates since they were not treated equally, the source added.
However, the junta is yet to officially announce the conclusion of the National Convention, held at Nyaunghnapin camp in Hmawbe, about 25 miles north of Rangoon. However, sources said that the convention will be officially declared closed on Monday.
Critics say the proceedings of the national convention were a sham as most of its delegates were handpicked and Burma’s main opposition party – the National League for Democracy – stuck to its boycott.
While the NLD and pro-democracy allies such as the Shan National League for Democracy have boycotted the junta’s convention, the 88 generation students group has appealed the people of Burma to vote against the draft constitution of the convention at the referendum proposed.
The National Convention Convening Commission, Chairman, Lt-Gen Thein Sein had announced in June that the constitutional talks will be followed by a referendum and a general election.
While analysts believe the junta will conduct a referendum in the early half of 2008 and general elections in the later half, the Burmese regime has not given any time-frame.
The 88 generation student leaders, prior to their recent arrest on August 21, had warned the junta that they could trigger another uprising similar to 1988, if it enforces its one-sided constitution.
Ko Ko Gyi, an 88 generation student leader told Mizzima, “a referendum is not only to give consent but it could also be a platform for rejection. We will campaign among the people to make use of this opportunity to express their true desire.”
However, the state-run new Light of Myanmar reported that the 13 student leaders, arrested on August 21, have been held on charges of disrupting the convention, and could face up to 20 years in prison.
The military junta has arrested and detained over 100 activists during the recent spate of protests that began on August 19 over the sudden hike in fuel prices. The junta is deploying hired gangs to keep watch in Rangoon and other parts of Burma to snuff out any sign of protest.