Burma's military leadership says it aims to bring "disciplined democracy" to the country, and that the only way to achieve this is through its seven-point road map to democracy. A senior member of the ruling junta made the remarks Monday as he opened a new session of the constitutional convention outside Rangoon.
Lieutenant-General Thein Sein Monday opened the latest session of the National Convention saying Burma has begun the transition to what he called a genuine and disciplined democracy.
The number-three ranking member of the military junta says the convention is the first and most crucial step in the transition. And he says Burmese must follow the seven steps laid out in a road map proposed two years ago.
Under the road map, the convention is to draft a constitution leading to multi-party elections. More than one thousand delegates are attending, but many political groups are absent.
The National League for Democracy, the major opposition group, says it will not participate until its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other party members are released from detention. The NLD won elections 15 years ago but was never allowed to govern.
An independent politician who is also boycotting, Win Naing, says the military leaders are trying to convince the world that the process is going well.
He said, "They might claim there are a lot of successes and they are doing quite a lot to democratize the country, but from our own perspective, I don't think they are going to succeed in that."
However, delegates for the most part are enthusiastic. One of them, Win Win, disagreed with the critics.
He said, "I don't think this will be a failure. No. There are reasons. There are reasons that we are going to make it. Everybody here has been hoping for the goal."
Critics note that principles already laid down will guarantee the military one-fourth of the seats in parliament, and exclude exiled political leaders.
General Thein Sein said that jealous forces inside and outside the country are trying to disrupt the process, and he urged his countrymen to defend themselves against destructive elements.
Organizers say the purpose of this session is to discuss power sharing among the various branches of government and the national, regional and state assemblies. Like others, it is likely to last about two months, and other sessions will be needed before the constitution is ready.