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US Diplomat in Burma as Party Urges Junta to Step Aside

10 April 2010: A high level US State Department official arrived in Burma Sunday for the second time in six months in what appears to be Washington’s last diplomatic overture towards the shunned Southeast Asian military regime before its planned elections later this year.

Information coming from Naypyidaw late Sunday afternoon said that Kurt Campbell, the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific had arrived at the new administrative capital at 1 pm. He is scheduled to meet with some key junta officials, including the foreign minister and information minister, as well as, the chief of the Election Commission, but it is unlikely the top US diplomat will have a meeting with the junta supreme leader Senior General Than Shwe.

Kurt Campbell is due to arrive in Rangoon from Naypyidaw today where he is expected to meet with the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Campbell’s unannounced trip comes amidst the US public expression of disappointment at Burma’s unfair electoral process, as well as, the disbanding of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which took effect Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Union Democracy Party (UDP), which is seeking to contest the 2010 elections, has said that the junta must step aside ahead of the elections and hand over power to an interim authority so that the polls can be considered free and fair.

The UDP statement comes in the wake of the recent formation of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is made of senior junta officials headed by the current Prime Minister General Thein Sein.

General Thein Sein and over 20 junta cabinet members resigned from their military posts late last month but they still retain their ministerial positions within Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

“For the 2010 elections to be free and fair it is important that those contesting in the elections not be the same persons who are running the show,” the UDP said.

The party points out several provisions in the junta’s own constitution, which prescribe, among others, that a political party member contesting in the elections cannot simultaneously be a member of the governmental authority.

“As an existing authority it is important that the SPDC maintain a neutral status in the electoral process so that the outcomes of the elections can be considered free and fair,” the UDP asserts, saying that the junta should recuse itself by appointing a neutral interim authority that will conduct the elections.

© Chinland Guardian

 

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