Indonesian Prez in Myanmar to press for democracy
Susilo Bambang has begun an official visit to Myanmar and is expected to press the ruling generals to move faster to restore democracy.india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 15:31 IST
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has begun an official visit to Myanmar on Wednesday and is expected to press the ruling generals to move faster to restore democracy.
Yudhoyono, whose government has been one of Myanmar's sternest critics, is due to meet junta chief Than Shwe later in the day to sign bilateral agreements.
The Indonesian government has said little about the visit by Yudhoyono, who is a former general who analysts say may offer the junta advice on its transition to democracy.
"He is the most suitable person who can give the best advice," political analyst Win Naing said.
"Being a soldier turned democratic politician, Yudhoyono has a lot of experience, ideas and suggestions to share with the SPDC leaders about the transition to democracy," he said, referring to the junta by its official name, the State Peace and Development Council.
"The two countries have a lot of similarities too."
The secretive junta has upset fellow members of the 10-strong Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) by dragging its feet on freeing democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and on political reform.
Criticism from within ASEAN has grown substantially as Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition party and a Nobel peace laureate, remains confined to her home nearly three years after her May 2003 arrest.
Last year, other ASEAN members forced Myanmar to forgo its scheduled 2006 chairmanship of the group. Jakarta said only last month the generals' foot-dragging had hurt regional stability.
ASEAN has become increasingly frustrated by the junta's slow progress in following its seven-step "roadmap to democracy", currently focused on a constitutional conference that critics say is designed to cement military rule.
The latest session of the conference, boycotted by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy because of her detention, was the third since 2004. It was adjourned in January and is not expected to reconvene until the end of the year.
First Published: Mar 01, 2006 14:34 IST