Myanmar sets out road map to democracy

YANGON: New Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt set out a “road map to democracy” yesterday, promising new talks with detained Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party on a new constitution leading to elections, witnesses said. 

But they said he mentioned Suu Kyi – detained on May 30 and kept in a secret location – only once during what the military government billed as Khin Nyunt's first policy speech and that was when he was criticising her National League for Democracy. 

Khin Byuntt: Promises new talks with NLD.

Khin Nyunt, a powerful general who is also head of military intelligence, set out a seven-stage “road map to democracy”, a phrase echoing Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's efforts to build a plan to bring Myanmar out of military rule. 

The witnesses quoted Khin Nyunt as saying the first step would be a resumption of a National Convention on producing a new constitution with the same participants as before it was suspended in 1996 following an NLD walkout. 

He gave no time frame, but a senior military official said the government hoped the conference would resume soon.  

There was no immediate official comment from the NLD, many of whose leaders are in detention.  

But one NLD official, who asked not to be identified, said it was impossible to say whether the “road map” would lead to a resumption of talks the party walked out of complaining that the military wanted to hold on to too much power. 

“It's very hard to say without knowing what our leader thinks,” he said. 

Nor did he know whether the military had discussed the plan with Suu Kyi. 

“We don't know what's going on behind the scenes,” he said. 

Suu Kyi has been detained – for her own protection, the military says –since a clash exactly three months ago between her supporters and pro-government youths. Each side blames the other for the violence. 

The witnesses quoted Khin Nyunt, who took over as prime minister earlier this week from military leader Than Shwe, as saying that once the constitution was settled, it would be put to a national referendum. 

A “yes” vote would lead to “free and fair elections on the basis of the constitution”, they quoted him as saying. 

On Friday, Washington renewed its demand that Suu Kyi be freed. – Reuters  

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