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Indonesia urged to reject Myanmar junta’s roadmap

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August 17, 2008

Indonesia urged to reject Myanmar junta’s roadmap
Asean members should reject the May referendum endorsing a new constitution in Myanmar, as it would give political legitimacy to the ruling military junta rather than serve as the roadmap to democracy it was touted to be, a local daily quoted Myanmar opposition leaders in exile as saying Friday.

"The referendum, and the elections planned in 2010, would spell disaster for Burma (Myanmar)," Sann Aung of the National League for Democracy in Burma told The Jakarta Post in Indonesia.

"If the election is allowed to take place, there will be more bloodshed and instability in the country," said Sann Aung, one of four Myanmar politicians in exile invited to Jakarta by the Indonesian House of Representatives to celebrate the country's 63rd Independence Day this weekend.

"We oppose the election and have appealed to people in Burma to boycott the election," Sann Aung said.

The referendum on May 10 took place barely a week after a cyclone killed 80,000 people and left more than 2 million homeless and impoverished.

The Myanmar military regime has insisted that the referendum and multiparty elections planned in 2010 are part of its roadmap to democracy, which its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including Indonesia, say is a must if it is to remain in the regional organization.

Asean has opted for "constructive engagement" with Myanmar, refuting calls from Western countries for a tougher line against one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

"We are not calling for an isolation of Burma or economic sanctions from Asean," Sann Aung said. "We are for strong engagement between the international community and the military regime."

Teddy Buri, president of the Members of Parliament Union (MPU), said Indonesia had the political clout to help the plight of the Burmese people, given its size as the third largest democracy in the world and its voice in the United Nations.

Indonesia could rally international support, bringing China and India on board to put pressure on the military regime to change, Buri said.

The delegation also included MPU secretary Thein Oo and Win Hlaing of the National League for Democracy.

They said they continue to receive information about the deteriorating situation inside Myanmar, with more than 2,000 activists jailed and some 2 million victims of the cyclone in desperate need of assistance, particularly food.

"Thanks to the Indonesian satellite, we can still communicate with them," Buri said, adding that they maintained contact by email or mobile phone.

The delegates said more than 2 million Myanmar people have left the country, mostly to neighboring Thailand to work there legally or otherwise, and some 5 million others were trying to leave to escape poverty.

Many young Myanmar girls have become victims of human trafficking, mostly sent to China, Sann Aung said.

The Burmese delegation is part of the government-in-exile based in Bangkok, made up mostly of politicians elected to parliament in 1990 but who never convened in Myanmar as the military rulers annulled the election. The Burmese MPs have been meeting regularly, but always in exile.

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