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Plan does not include key political parties, ethnic groups

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has attacked a 'road map to democracy' proposed in September by Burma's military rulers for its failure to include the opposition party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other political and ethnic groups in the country, RFA's Burmese service reports.

In an update to a report detailing the human rights situation in Burma, Annan said that last week's visit by UN Special Envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro had failed to deliver assurances from the junta that the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in 1990 elections but was not allowed to take power, would be included in the process.

"The efforts of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to persuade the Government to agree to include the NLD, other political parties and representatives of all [Burma's] ethnic nationalities in the earliest stages of the road map process and to set a time line for the map's implementation have not borne fruit," Annan said.

He said that mass rallies were no substitute for the active participation of political parties in the process of democratization and national reconciliation, and repeated calls for Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt, and other government leaders to lift remaining restrictions on NLD leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who were detained on or after May 30.

Pinheiro met Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit, though details of what was discussed during their two-hour meeting were not released. However, the opposition leader was reported by Agence France-Presse to have vowed not to accept her liberty if offered it by the junta unless her NLD colleagues were also released.

Pinheiro is expected to brief the U.N. General Assembly on his visit Nov. 12 following his visit to Burma, during which he also met with 14 representatives of various ethnic minority groups.

One minority representative contacted by RFA's Burmese service, United Nationalities Alliance leader Khun Tun Oo, said, "Mr. Pinheiro met with me and two colleagues Thursday morning for over an hour. He said the discussions would be helpful to him, and that he didn't want our talks to be made public, that he would discuss the relevant details of his trip at a press conference."

Pinheiro met with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday at her Rangoon residence, where she remains under house arrest. Her last contact with international agencies was her meeting with U.N. envoy Razali Ismail on Oct.1. Her continued detention has caused widespread criticism and demands from the international community for her release.

On Wednesday, Pinheiro visited 20 political prisoners at Rangoon's infamous Insein Prison. He reported that the ailing prisoners were "stable" but added, "the prison is awful, in terrible condition."

"I am not just coming to monitor their situation but to demonstrate to the government that it is crucial to release all the political prisoners," he said.

Pinheiro described his talks with Khin Nyunt as positive. "I had the opportunity to share many aspects of my report [on human rights abuses] and proposed ways to promote and implement basic human rights," he told reporters.

Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested after a government-led ambush on her motorcade on May 30 in the north of the country, in which as many as 100 people died, and an unknown number of women were raped, according to eyewitness testimonies recorded for RFA's Burmese service.


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