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Myanmar to adjourn constitution talks next week

The current closed-door session of the National Convention would recess on Tuesday after 2 months of talks near the capital Yangon.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 13:47 IST

Myanmar's military junta is expected to adjourn much-criticised talks on a new democratic constitution next week, an official said on Friday, despite pressure from neighbours to speed up political change.

The current closed-door session of the National Convention would recess on Tuesday after about 2 months of talks near the capital Yangon, said a senior government official who declined to be named.

"Nobody can say for sure how long exactly it will be adjourned," he told the agency.

Official media have said little about the talks involving more than 1,000 delegates from across the former Burma, most of them hand-picked by the military government.

This session was expected to debate basic principles on citizenship and, more importantly, the role of the armed forces under a new constitution.

The army, which has run the Southeast Asian nation under various guises since 1962, says the convention is key to a seven stage "roadmap to democracy" laid out in 2003 by former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, who was purged in October 2004.

Western governments, analysts and diplomats say it is nothing but a smokescreen to preserve the generals' grip on power, especially while opposition figures such as Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remain under house arrest.

ASEAN, Southeast Asia's regional grouping, has favoured "constructive engagement" rather than the sanctions preferred by the West.

But Myanmar's neighbours appear to be losing patience after Yangon put off a visit this month by the foreign minister of Malaysia, which holds the rotating chair of ASEAN this year.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who held talks with his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo in Phnom Penh on Monday, said they wanted the ASEAN visit to happen soon.

"In the meeting we both agreed that this postponement must not be long and to make sure the coming visit of Malaysia's foreign minister to Myanmar must not be a tourist visit. It must be a fruitful visit," Hor Namhong told reporters.

Indonesia's foreign minister said this month that foot-dragging by Myanmar's military rulers in moving towards democracy had hurt stability across Southeast Asia.

First Published: Jan 27, 2006 13:47 IST