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Burma's Military Sets Rules For Convention - 2004-05-21


Burma's military government has laid out strict rules of conduct for delegates attending its constitutional convention, now underway in Rangoon.

A code of ethics and discipline has been distributed to all those attending the convention, advising them not to express disloyalty to the state or discuss topics outside the official agenda. State-run media say the delegates were told the rules are not meant for repression, but in the interest of everyone.

Apart from matters of national security, the regulations also cover personal conduct and even hygiene. They are advised to wear suitable clothing, to avoid junk food and to take baths at appropriate times.

Most of the delegates to the convention were hand-picked. Foreign diplomats and human rights organizations have dismissed the gathering as a sham -- in the absence of the opposition National League for Democracy party. It chose to boycott after the military refused to free its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for the past year.

The convention is meant as a first step to what Burma's military says is an eventual transformation to democracy.

A U.S. State Department spokesman Friday expressed regret that Burma's constitutional convention does not include representatives of the pro-democracy opposition. He said the convention therefore lacks legitimacy and does not truly represent the Burmese people.

The spokesman called again on the government in Rangoon to free Aung San Suu Kyi.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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