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Burma Says US Should Stop Lecturing about Democracy - 2004-05-24


Burma's military government says the United States should stop lecturing it about democracy.

In a statement released today (Monday) in Rangoon, Burma's ruling generals say violence in the Middle East shows how difficult it is to transform countries from the outside.

The military insists it is committed to restoring democracy in Burma, but will do so at its own pace. It says efforts to draft a Burmese constitution will lay the foundation for elections and for a stable, democratic and representative government.

On Friday, the United States dismissed a constitutional convention called last week by Burma's rulers, saying the meeting has not allowed substantive dialogue or full participation by all political groups. It also extended sanctions against Burma for another year.

The U.S. government called on the Burmese military to release all political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy is boycotting the convention, because she remains under house arrest.

Burma's military picked most of the delegates to the gathering, which foreign diplomats and human rights organizations have called a sham.

Reports from the meeting say the Burmese government has issued strict rules about conduct to convention delegates. Participants have been warned not to express disloyalty to the state or discuss topics outside the official agenda. They also are forbidden to walk out on the proceedings.

The code of conduct also dictates that delegates dress appropriately, take baths at reasonable times, and avoid eating junk food.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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