Suu Kyi rejects meeting with party

Nov 6, 2009 (DVB), Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday rejected a meeting with members of her party on the grounds that the party's detained vice-chairman would not be present, state media said.

Senior United States official Kurt Campbell had reportedly requested the meeting between Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) party prior to him meeting with Suu Kyi on Wednesday.

Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 14 of the last 20 years, has so far been barred from meeting with members of her party.

"In accordance with the request of Mr. Kurt Michael Campbell, the Government made plans to arrange a meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD [Central Executive Committee] members before meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," the New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

The government said however that party vice-chairman, Tin Oo, who was put under house arrest along with Suu Kyi following the 2003 Depayin massacre, would not be permitted to attend.

"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi replied that she did not want to meet them because not all CEC members were included; but she expressed thanks, all the same," the newspaper said.

Nyo Ohn Myint, foreign affairs secretary of the NLD-Liberated Areas (NLD-LA) said the decision was in line with NLD policy on all-inclusive dialogue.

"The collective decision is very important," he said. "The exclusion of Tin Oo is politically damaging to the positive atmosphere the government is trying to project."

"[Suu Kyi] cannot transform Burma into a democracy on her own; she needs all the executive committee. That's why she thinks that this is not an appropriate time to meet with the CEC without Tin Oo."

The US has attempted to dampen expectations of a quick result from its recent trip to Burma, with the Campbell delegation reiterating that dialogue between the two countries would be a difficult and slow process.

The junta's decision to bar Tin Oo was, according to Nyo Ohn Myint, a sign that the international community has an uphill struggle in pushing for democratic reform in Burma.

"The regime is trying to improve its public relations with the international community but it is still showing that it is reluctant to improve or provide any positive sign towards national reconciliation," he said.

He said however that he was "very positive, very impressed" with the US visit, which was the most senior-level of its kind since 1995.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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