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South Africa Defends Opposition to UN Resolution on Burma


South Africa is defending its decision last week to vote against a United Nations Security Council resolution critical of Burma.

Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad says while South Africa is concerned about human rights violations in Burma, it does not believe the military-ruled nation is a threat to international peace and security.

Pahad says the UN Human Rights Council is a more suitable venue to address problems in Burma. He says South Africa will continue to seek the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The U.S.-drafted resolution failed last Friday because of vetos by China and Russia.

The resolution would have urged Burma's military government to release all political prisoners, speed up progress toward democracy, and stop attacks against ethnic minorities.

Of the other council members, nine countries voted in favor and three abstained.

Burma's military has ruled the country since 1962 and ignored a 1990 landslide election victory by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of her time in prison or under house arrest.

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