Junta approves draft constitution

Feb 20, 2008 (DVB), The Burmese government has announced that it has completed the draft state constitution, which it plans to put before the people of Burma in a May referendum.

The draft was approved at a meeting held yesterday in Naypyidaw.

Chief justice U Aung Toe, who chaired the Commission for Drafting the State Constitution, said that the constitution was drafted in accordance with the six objectives of the National Convention.

These included national unity, multi-party democracy, and values such as justice, liberty and equality, and also mandated military participation in political leadership.

There has been widespread criticism of the regime's plans for a national referendum on the constitution, with opposition activists, foreign governments and rights groups claiming that the drafting process has not been transparent or inclusive.

Democracy activists have also criticised the announcement of a 2010 general election as premature when the constitution has not yet been accepted and is likely to preclude detained National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from running for office.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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