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Burmese Exiles: Military Rulers Using Welfare Group to Maintain Power


A group of Burmese exiles says Burma's military rulers are using a social welfare organization to perpetuate their grip on power and intimidate the civilian population.

The group of pro-democracy activists the Network for Democracy and Development says the military-controlled organization could evolve into a political party, allowing Burma's generals to stay in power if elections are held.

Burma's military rulers created the social organization, called the Union Solidarity Development Association-USDA, in 1993. The exiles say the USDA carries out acts of violence against civilians and opposition members.

The Burmese activists released their report on Burma's political situation today-Tuesday in the Thai capital, Bangkok, where they are based.

The report coincided with the third anniversary of an attack on the convoy of Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The exiles accuse USDA members of killing scores of opposition supporters in the convoy attack on May 30th, 2003.

Burma's leaders say they have adopted a seven-step "roadmap to democracy," but have not set any fixed date for elections.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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