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Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Inside Burma: Opposition fights on
NLD office, Rangoon
The party's office is getting run-down
By Jonathan Head in Rangoon

Volunteers tap out a newsletter in the back of an old office in Rangoon. The office is the last refuge of the National League for Democracy(NLD), the party that won Burma's last election.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi: Secret talks
The party won a landslide victory in the 1990 election but the military authorities refused to hand over power.

Crowds still throng the dilapidated NLD headquarters, drawn in by leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who continues her campaign against military rule from house arrest.

But party leaders admit that years of repression, are taking their toll.

"We cannot keep up our membership, some are getting old, some are getting disease or something like that and some were forced by security people to leave the party," said U Lwin, the party's Executive Secretary, "so we're reduced to the very bare minimum."

'Not stalled'

So the news of a secret dialogue between the generals and Aung San Suu Kyi has been grasped by a people hungry for change.

U Lwin, National League for Democracy
U Lwin: Membership is dwindling
But after eight months and no visible progress, there are fears here that the talks may be grinding to a halt. That prompted the military regime to break its silence this week at a gathering in Burma of ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

The regime insisted the talks were going well.

"The question of... this process being stalled is not correct, it's not stalled. And we hope that this process, which is very much complex and delicate, should be... discussed right now," Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung told the meeting.

Burmese foreign minister Win Aung
Win Aung: A rare comment from the military
Burma now lags decades behind its neighbours. Its hard-pressed people desperately need an end to the deadlock between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military. For them the pace of political change is painfully slow.

Burma's rulers though, are in no hurry to see an end to their control over the country. The road to a better future for its people could still be a very long one.

See also:

05 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Envoy meets Aung San Suu Kyi
30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma's new approach
15 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma 'halts' media attacks on Suu Kyi
10 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
UN welcomes secret Burmese talks
10 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
What's behind the Burmese talks?
25 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi
16 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma sanctions imminent
07 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Clinton honours Burma's Suu Kyi
17 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma accused of murder
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