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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 12:50 GMT
Analysis: Burma's generals feel the heat
Aung San Suu Kyi speaking to supporters in 1997
Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest in Rangoon
By the BBC's Burma analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

Burma's military junta is under increased international pressure to step up its dialogue with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Both the US Government and the United Nations envoy, who brokered talks between the generals and the opposition leader, are warning Rangoon that they are growing impatient at the lack of progress.


It's moving but the talks are not going as fast as they should

United Nations envoy Razali Ismail
These calls come just as there is increased speculation in Rangoon that the military authorities may release Aung San Su Kyi from house arrest within weeks.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since September 2000.

Her National League for Democracy party won an overwhelming election victory in 1990 that was never recognised by the junta.

Growing impatience

In its latest report to Congress, the US Government says it is time for the talks to move from the confidence-building stage to what it calls "genuine political dialogue... aimed at returning the country to democracy and civilian rule."

General Than Shwe
Aung San Suu Kyi recently met General Than Shwe
Washington's comments reflect a growing concern internationally that the Burmese generals are dragging their feet and are not really prepared to talk about substantive political change.

The UN envoy, Razali Ismail is also beginning to get impatient.

"It's moving but the talks are not going as fast as they should," he said in Kuala Lumpur.

Prisoner release

Mr Razali has consistently told the BBC that the dialogue process was a difficult one and not to expect major events or milestones.

His uncharacteristic outburst may be an attempt to put pressure on the Burmese junta to move the process forward before he arrives on his next visit in March.

"The UN envoy left Burma's military leaders in no doubt that he expected them to move the reconciliation process from the confidence-building stage to substantive dialogue," said a source close to the Mr Razali.

"Everyone knows what steps need to be taken."

Those steps must include the immediate release of the remaining elected MPs and freeing the opposition leader from house arrest.

Diplomats in Rangoon believe these were the two main issues which were discussed when Aung San Suu Kyi met General Than Shwe two weeks ago

That meeting was seen as a sign that the dialogue process may be on the verge of a breakthrough.

That is certainly what the UN human rights rapporteur for Burma, Professor Paulo Pinheiro will be concentrating on during his current fact-finding mission.

UN sources say Mr Pinheiro will be pressing the Burmese junta on the issue of political prisoners as part of the international community's efforts to bring about democratic reform in Burma.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Aung San Suu Kyi meets Burma general
28 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bra company pulls out of Burma
11 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Aung San Suu Kyi urges caution
10 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's military 'supports democracy'
08 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Peace greats urge Suu Kyi release
07 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Free Aung San Suu Kyi'
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's slow road to reform
06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma opposition denies 'power share'
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese opposition backs talks
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma talks stalled
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