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Malaysia: Burma Might Be Expelled Frm ASEAN Nations - 2003-07-20


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Burma could be expelled from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations if it continues to defy the international community's calls for the release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In an interview with the French news agency, Mr. Mahathir said any decision to remove Burma from ASEAN would be a last resort.

The Malaysian prime minister played a key role in bringing Burma into the 10-member regional bloc in 1997.

Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since May 30th, when she was detained after a clash in northern Burma between supporters of her National League for Democracy and pro-government groups.

Burma's military government has said she is being held for her own protection against unidentified assassins.

ASEAN demanded the Nobel Peace Prize winner's release last month at its annual ministerial meeting in Cambodia.

Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy won Burma's last parliamentary election by a landslide in 1990, but the military refused to relinquish power. Generals have ruled Burma since 1962. The current government came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

ASEAN's members are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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