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Burma Declines to Modify Constitutional Convention - 2004-04-20


Burma's military government says it will not revise the format or objectives of its upcoming constitutional convention, despite calls by the pro-democracy opposition for changes.

A senior government official (Lieutenant General Thein Sein) says the convention will pick up where the original meeting left off in 1996. One of the six objectives set before the convention calls for a leading role for the military in any future Burmese government.

Burma's opposition National League for Democracy party walked out of the first convention in 1996, saying the forum was nothing more than a rubber stamp for the military government.

The party has said it will not decide whether to attend the upcoming convention, slated top open May 17th, until its leader Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.

Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of others imprisoned for what he called the "peaceful expression of their political beliefs."

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for nearly a year.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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