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Suu Kyi's Party Marks Independence Day - 2003-01-04


Commemorating Burma's 55th anniversary of Independence Day, Aung San Suu Kyi called for the military government to start a political dialogue.

In a statement on Saturday, the National League for Democracy said, "Today, being Independence Day, is the most appropriate time for a dialogue between the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)."

AFP reported that 500 NLD party members, including diplomats from western countries and Japan, attended without incident the Independence Day ceremony held at NLD headquarters in Rangoon. NLD vowed to pursue dialogue "by peaceful means for the benefit of the people." It also called for the release of an estimated 1,300 political prisoners without any conditions or delay.

AP reported that Aung San Suu Kyi accused the military government of taking no serious steps to end the country's political deadlock--the clearest sign that the reconciliation talks are not going anywhere. Suu Kyi also said in her speech during a commemorative ceremony, "No dialogue has begun since the confidence-building talks started."

"We are not disheartened. However, we are concerned that the longer the delay for a dialogue, the more people will suffer," the Nobel laureate said.

In a 17-page statement, the NLD accused authorities of interfering, harassing and hindering her latest tour of northwestern Raknine state for her party work, saying "Such actions could only damage the existing improvements and hamper future progress."

The military government denied the allegations in a statement released on Saturday, restricting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political activities and warning that reconciliation will progress only if the opposition abides by the country's laws.

The junta made this comment after the United States and Britain voiced deep concern over the allegations.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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