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Malaysia urges Myanmar to seek reconciliation

world Updated: Jun 19, 2010 14:37 IST

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Saturday marked the 65th birthday of Myanmar's jailed opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi by calling on her country's military junta to embrace democracy.

In a rare departure from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) policy of non-interference in members' internal affairs, Najib said: "I like to see national reconciliation in Myanmar."

He also said he hoped electoral reforms adopted in Myanmar this year -- which have nevertheless led to the dissolution of its main opposition -- would involve all political players.

"I hope the democratic road map will entail a solution that is inclusive. That is the hope of ASEAN," Najib told reporters.

Suu Kyi, the world's only Nobel Peace laureate in detention, has been held for 14 of the past 20 years -- mostly at her lakeside villa in Yangon -- after her National League for Democracy (NLD) won elections in 1990 by a landslide.

This year the NLD was dissolved under rules for forthcoming elections that critics have denounced as a sham and from which Suu Kyi has been excluded.

Asked if he would like to see Suu Kyi freed, Najib said: "I think the (Myanmar) government knows what it needs to do to get the confidence and support of the international community."

Elsewhere in the Malaysian capital around 100 Myanmar exiles marked Suu Kyi's birthday with patriotic songs and speeches at a ceremony that ended with the cutting of a birthday cake.

"We feel very sad that Aung San Suu Kyi is being held by the military junta," Kyaw Myo Maung, 27, the event's organiser, told AFP.

"We urge the Myanmar people to boycott the election. The people will be cheated again. How can there be fair election with Aung San Suu Kyi and others leaders in jail," he asked.

Myanmar's junta has pledged to hold elections in 2010, but has not set a date for the polls, the first since it refused to recognise 1990's result.

The NLD and Myanmar's ethnic minorities are suspicious about the election, fearing the junta will use it to legitimise its rule.