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Myanmar hits out at US, Britain on NLD training

Myanmar has accused the US and UK of violating diplomatic protocol by conducting free training courses for Oppn party members.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 14:47 IST

Myanmar has accused the US and British embassies of violating diplomatic protocol by conducting free training courses for members of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, a state newspaper said on Tuesday.

The New Light of Myanmar said junior leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) had studied English, computers and international relations at the embassies since last year.

It said the training was illegal because the $1,000 fees normally charged to the public had been waived for the NLD members.

"The training courses conducted by these embassies are aimed at feeding sugar-coated poison to youths," the newspaper said in attacking the two main Western critics of the military junta.

"It is found that conducting illegal courses at the embassies in cooperation with the NLD means violating the diplomatic codes of conduct and interfering in the Myanmar's internal affairs blatantly," it said.

Embassy officials were not immediately available to comment.

The newspaper report came amid mounting pressure on the NLD, which won a landslide election victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the army that has ruled in various guises since 1962.

The junta accused the NLD last month of having ties to "terrorists and destructive groups" and said it had cause to ban the party, but it would allow the NLD to exist for now.

Since then, the party has been hit by a spate of resignations, which NLD officials blame on pressure from the regime.

On Monday, state newspapers reported that 67 NLD members in Shwegu Township in Kachin State had quit on May 4 and handed over their office equipment to local authorities.

Dozens more resignations have been reported in Northern Shan State and some foreign diplomats believe the junta is preparing a final crackdown against the NLD despite its weakened state.

The party's offices outside the capital have been shut since May 2003 when Suu Kyi, 60, was detained. The Nobel Peace laureate remains under house arrest at her Yangon home, her telephone cut off and visitors restricted.

The junta's actions drew a mild rebuke last week from regional neighbour Malaysia, which said the credibility of Yangon's "roadmap to democracy" would be at risk if it banned the NLD.

Myanmar proposed a seven-step plan in 2003 to end 44 years of army diktat, but the junta says it is only half way through step one, drafting a new constitution.

Yangon's foot-dragging has irked its neighbours in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which forced Myanmar to forego its chairmanship of the 10-nation grouping this year.

First Published: May 09, 2006 14:47 IST