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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 22:48 GMT
Burmese groups reject 'roadmap'
Burma's new Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt before delivering his speech on 30 August 2003
Burma's military rulers are accused of stifling democracy
Representatives of 25 ethnic groups and alliances in Burma have rejected the "road map" to democracy outlined by Prime Minister Khin Nyunt.

At a meeting held in Burma in the last few days the ethnic groups are said to have reiterated their call for the military government to start talks.

They also want the opposition National League for Democracy to take part.

The NLD overwhelmingly won a general election in 1990 but was never allowed by the Burmese military to take power.

This was the last free election held in Burma.

Third force

The meeting included representatives of two armed groups that have signed a ceasefire with the government - such groups were stopped by the government from attending a similar meeting in l999.

Correspondents say that since the last meeting more than five years ago of ethnic groups including those on ceasefire, the military authorities have been concerned that they could become a third force in Burmese politics.

General Khin Nyunt announced the roadmap at a major policy speech in August.

A National Convention is being reconvened later this year to draw up a new constitution for the country.

However, the government has given no timetable for releasing NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Nor has the military suggested that it will release its grip on power.

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