Opposition party responds to junta's call for election participation

Mar 30, 2009 (DVB), Burma's military leader urged political parties last week to participate in the 2010 elections, whilst warning them not to criticise the 2008 constitution, which many claim guarantees a continuation of military rule.

Political observers in Burma understood the speech, given during National Arms Day (Tatmadaw Day) on Friday, to be directly aimed at the National League for Democracy, which has been calling for a revision of the constitution.

The NLD's spokesperson, Thein Nyunt, however said there was nothing explicit in Senior General Than Shwe's speech that suggested a revision of the constitution will be blocked.

"I didn't hear any statement about denying revision of the constitution," he said.

"In every constitution ever written, there is always a session on revising the document itself because it is the 'basic' constitution, as we call it, which is not the 'complete' or the 'perfect' constitution."

He went on to say that the NLD statement released on Friday reinstated the party's call to form a constitution amendment committee to include representatives from parliament, ethnic groups and the military.

No response has so far been received from the government.

"The government and the NLD have different opinions from each other," he said.

"They don't want us to attack the constitution but we think it needs amending.

"I think the best way to find an answer to this argument is to hold a dialogue and find out how we could do the best for our people."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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