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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Burma opposition denies 'power share'
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi has been in dialogue with the military
By regional analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

Burma's military rulers have proposed a power sharing arrangement with the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Thai army officer has said, quoting a top Burma general.

But a spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy told the BBC he knew of no such proposal.


We are waiting for the military to make an offer

U Lwin, National League for Democracy
Thailand's Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyut made the claim following a visit to Thailand by Burma's military intelligence chief, Lt General Khin Nyunt.

"The talks are going well," he told journalists. "There may be good news soon."

But the NLD spokesman, U Lwin, told the BBC "there was in fact no dialogue process going on at present."

He added: "We are waiting for the military to make an offer."

U Lwin said the party was waiting for more releases of political prisoners and were very hopeful that this might happen in the near future.

Thai interests

The talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's military leaders are on the verge of a break-through, according to senior Thai military sources.

Burma's intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt in Thailand
Khin Nyunt has just returned from a visit to Thailand
But it is in Thailand's interests to believe Khin Nyunt. The Thai Government has gone overboard in supporting the Burmese military government - with substantial aid packages for crop substitution programmes and promises of major economic co-operation in the future.

The government is keen to deflect opposition criticism of its policy of doing business with the junta as well as international criticism that is bound to follow.

General Chavalit told reporters that General Khin Nyunt told him that he saw Aung San Suu Kyi every two weeks.

"That's not the case" NLD spokesman U Lwin told the BBC. "He hasn't seen her for several months."

Thai military sources told the BBC that Khin Nyunt actually said they were seeing Aung San Suu Kyi through a channel of contacts rather than direct face-to-face meetings. U Lwin said that this was the case, and a military intelligence liaison officer was calling on Aung San Suu Kyi at least once a week.

Slow change

This is not the first time that General Chavalit has told journalists that there was about to be a political break-through in Burma. He told journalists something similar in July. He is known to be very close to Khin Nyunt.


Change in Burma is imperceptible and will not be in the form of major milestones

UN special envoy Razali Ismail
Diplomats in Rangoon say the talks between the two sides are obviously at a crucial stage. Aung San Suu Kyi appears very confident, they say.

But the fact remains that no one is revealing what, if any, the substance of the talks are.

Aung San Suu Kyi has told diplomats and senior party members that she had promised the Generals not to discuss the details of the talks with anyone, and she was keeping to that even if the military were not keeping their part of the bargain.

The signs in Rangoon seem to indicate that the talks may be on a verge of a break-through of sorts, but according to senior NLD sources this means movement from talks about talks to something substantive.

"We must remain patient" U Lwin told the BBC.

This seems to also reflect the UN special envoy, Razali Ismail's view.

"Change in Burma is imperceptible and will not be in the form of major milestones," he told the BBC.

For the moment everyone is advising patience.

"Although we don't know what, things are happening," said a diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous.

But the talks have been going on for nearly a year and there is growing impatience among pro-democracy supporters inside and outside Burma.

They want a clear indication that the talks are moving beyond the confidence-building stage and are becoming a substantive dialogue involving some kind of power-sharing proposals.

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma and Thailand seek closer ties
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese opposition backs talks
20 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese government regrets no show
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma talks stalled
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Opposition prisoners freed in Burma
26 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma: 10 years on
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