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Burma lashes out at Thailand’s ‘interference’

May 25, 2009 (DVB), Burma has accused Thailand, the current Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ chair and one of its key allies, of meddling in Burma's internal affairs after expressing "grave concern" over Aung San Suu Kyi's trial.

A statement released by Thailand last week on behalf of ASEAN reiterated calls for the release of Suu Kyi, who today starts her sixth day of hearings over chages of violating conditions of her house arrest.

"With the eyes of the international community on Myanmar at present, the honour and the credibility of the Government of the Union of Myanmar are at stake," it said.

An article yesterday in Burma's state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, which acts as a government mouthpiece, rejected the statement, saying it was "not in conformity with ASEAN practice, incorrect in facts, [and] interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar".

It was a rare rebuke for Thailand, who maintains close ties to Burma's ruling junta, and has repeatedly shunned pressure to implement sanctions on Burma, stating that it would not go beyond rhetorical condemnation of the regime.

ASEAN should have prepared a draft version of its statement, said the article, that would have been passed on to Burma's foreign minister for approval.

"Such an act can cause undesirable tradition in ASEAN," it warned, adding that the statement should only have been issued after 'consensus' had been reached.

International leaders have condemned the trial of the opposition leader, particularly in light of the reported health problems she developed prior to be charged.

Observers claim the charges are merely a false pretext in which to keep Suu Kyi in detention beyond the scheduled 2010 elections.

"Action against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is taken in accordance with the normal practice in every state and it is merely the internal affairs of Myanmar," the article said.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith


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