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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 16:21 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Burmese opposition politicans detained

The government says it is being "cautious" to prevent renewed unrest

The leader of the Burmese opposition Aung San Suu Kyi says more than 145 of her party's members have been detained by the government in a series of recent roundups.

The BBC's David Willis talks to Wim Aung for BBC World
As Burma begins its 38th year of military dictatorship the government has reiterated its position that there must be order in the country before progress towards democratisation can take place.

Aung San Suu Kyi says that a number of members of the National League for Democracy have been held at so-called government guesthouses where they were persuaded to resign from the party.

The government denies putting pressure on opposition politicians but the statement from Miss Suu Kyi is unlikely to better the already battered image of the Burmese government overseas.

'Stability and prosperity'

The country's newly appointed Foreign Minister Win Aung says it is the government's responsibility to protect Burma's "silent majority" against the excesses of the NLD and the government was merely being "cautious".

[ image: Win Aung says foreigners have misunderstood Burma]
Win Aung says foreigners have misunderstood Burma
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Win Aung said the NLD leadership had slandered government efforts to bring stability and prosperity to the country.

He said the universities, closed for much of the past decade, would reopen "as soon as possible".

The foreign minister said they had been closed because the students had been "misused" by political forces "to rally and bring down the government".

He said many outsiders misunderstood the situation in Burma, but he said people are free to go about their normal daily business "protected from the anarchy that could come back very easily."

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