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Mahathir Disappointed At Slow Political Reform in Burma - 2004-04-14


The influential former prime minister of Malaysia has expressed disappointment that Burma's progress toward democracy has been so slow.

Mahathir Mohamad made the comment in an interview with Reuters news agency.

Mr. Mahathir has been one of the most vocal proponents of Burma's entry into the Southeast Asian political mainstream. But he told Reuters he regrets that things in Burma move so slowly. He said that with the right government, Burma has the potential to flourish.

The former Malaysian leader's comments were published one day after the military government in Rangoon freed two senior opposition figures after nearly a year in detention.

But opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is still confined. The United States, European Union, Japan and other countries have demanded that she be freed to participate in a process of democratizing Burma.

Mr. Mahathir said putting pressure on Burma's ruling generals is not likely to help. He said they will need assurances that if they give up power to an elected government, they will not be thrown into jail or sentenced to death.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AFP.

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