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Myanmar's foot-dragging hurting stability: Jakarta

The 10-member ASEAN regularly chides the junta for failing to free Aung San Suu Kyi and move towards more democratic system.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2006 15:32 IST

Foot-dragging by Myanmar's military rulers in moving towards democracy has hurt stability across Southeast Asia, the foreign minister of Indonesia, the region's largest country, said on Friday.

The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) regularly chides Myanmar's military junta for failing to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other dissidents and to show progress in moving towards a more democratic system.

"The Myanmar case has rather disturbed ASEAN's stability," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said in a speech.

"We ask Myanmar to show measured democratic progress within the dateline and timeframe of the roadmap of democracy," he said, referring to Yangon's own democratisation guidelines.

There were gaps between what Myanmar had agreed as an ASEAN member and the reality on the ground on matters relating to democracy and the rule of law, he noted.

The United States has called Myanmar an "outpost of tyranny".

Before a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Jakarta next week, Wirajuda urged Washington to share more information in its anti-terror campaign with Indonesia, a key ally in the Muslim world.

But he was vague on whether Jakarta would demand Washington return Indonesian militant cleric Hambali, who has been in US custody since 2003, to help solve Indonesia's own terror cases.

"We don't have a wish list," Wirajuda said. "We remind them from time to time ... On the need to have real (timeframes) in the exchange of information regarding old cases such as Hambali."

Hambali is an Islamic preacher whom authorities believe was Osama bin Laden's key link to Southeast Asia and an operational commander of Jemaah Islamiah, seen as a regional arm of Al-Qaeda. He was caught in a US-led raid in Thailand in mid-2003.

Indonesia has long sought custody of Hambali, who is believed to have played a role in Jemaah Islamiah's suspected bombings of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

The group is also thought to have been behind a car bombing at a luxury hotel in Jakarta in 2003 and a similar attack outside the Australian embassy the following year.

The United States has said it hoped to be able to hand Hambali over to Indonesia but has not said when.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 15:32 IST