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Exiled opposition MPs contest junta's UN seat

Sep 11, 2008 (DVB), Elected members of parliament from the 1990 election have submitted a letter to the United Nations challenging the right of the ruling State Peace and Development Council to represent Burma at the UN.

The National Council of the Union of Burma, based on the Thai-Burma border, announced yesterday that the campaign letter had been submitted to the office of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

The letter was signed by Daw San San, vice-chairperson of the exiled Members of Parliament Union, according to Associated Press reports.

The letter said that the group had established a permanent mission to the UN and had designated MPU secretary U Thein Oo, an MP-elect from Mandalay division, as permanent representative to the UN to push the group's claims in New York.

The UN secretary-general's office confirmed that the letter had been received and said it would be dealt in accordance with procedures.

The NCUB campaign is led by secretary-general U Maung Maung and is supported by the MPU, the International Burmese Monks Organisation and Burmese students and young people in the US who have been protesting outside the UN building in New York.

NCUB spokesperson U Myint Thein said the campaign was intended to highlight that the military regime did not legitimately represent the people of Burma.

"Some of the international community regards the SPDC military clique as a legitimate government and think that the constitution written by the SPDC is fine," he said.

"We are trying to make them understand that after the 2010 election, it will be seen as a legitimate government, but in fact this is against the will of the people," he went on.

"The SPDC army clique is not a legitimate government and the SPDC is ostensibly opposing and sidelining the great result of the 1990 election."

But the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, the Burmese government in exile made up of elected MPs and led by Dr Sein Win, did not sign up to the NCUB campaign.

Bo Hla Tint, an NCGUB minister, said that other countries would be unlikely to support the NCUB request because of the precedent it could set.

"The NCUB has been holding consultations for more than a year about this. They have been having discussions with us, and we explained our position to them at the time," Bo Hla Tin said.

"When the result of the election was still fresh in 1993-4 and the situation for democratic countries who supported us was good at the UN, we ourselves consulted friendly countries and our advisors and attempted the same thing," he explained.

"But friendly countries advised us that if we challenged [the regime's] credentials, some countries would worry that that could become the norm and it would cause diplomatic difficulties to friendly countries and those that give us humanitarian support," he continued.

"That's why we explained that we do not want to do this kind of thing."

U Bo Hla Tint said that the two sides continued to be at odds over the issue, and that while the NCGUB has issued a statement saying they do not oppose the campaign, they will not play a role in signing or submitting the letter.

There have been rumours of tensions between the NCUB and NCGUB for many years, but they have not previously been made manifest so publicly.

But officials from the two organisations insist that, while there may be differences of opinion over policy, they are united in their aims.

NCUB's U Myint Thein dispute claims of divisions between the two groups on this issue.

"There is no split; NCGUB has no wish to oppose this action," he said.

"On their side, there is discussion over whether they should support the campaign, but when it comes to carrying out the duties individually, they are not being able to take an individual and practical role due to their personal circumstances."

U Bo Hla Tint of NCGUB said the discussions demonstrated the healthy level of debate within the pro-democracy movement.

"What the SPDC is really afraid of isn't being expelled from ASEAN or the UN , we all know that it is really afraid of having to give up power," U Bo Hla Tint said.

"This is one campaign, not the main political solution, and differences of opinion on campaigns are not so important," he explained.

"In terms of the really important political matters, we have no reason to have different opinions. We will continue to work as one with the alliance and the remaining forces," he said.

"If everyone in the democracy movement had the same opinions on every issue, it would not be a democracy movement – it would become a dictatorship."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw


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