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Burmese Opposition Boycotts Convention - 2004-05-16


Burma's military rulers are set to convene a constitutional convention, despite a boycott by the country's two largest opposition parties.

Military officials say they will convene the meeting today (Monday) "in the interests of national unity" and insist a new constitution will be Burma's first step in the "road map to democracy." The meeting will be held at a compound outside Rangoon.

But foreign diplomats in the Burmese capital say the convention has lost credibility before even starting, because of the boycott.

The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, says it will not take part because its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains under house arrest. Joining the boycott is Burma's second largest pro-democracy party, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has accused the Burmese military of preventing foreign correspondents from covering the convention. The group says Burmese officials have refused journalists visas, subjected them to intimidation and imposed censorship.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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