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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"The General delivered a blunt warning"
 real 28k

Monday, 27 March, 2000, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Burmese military warns opponents
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest
The military government in Burma has made a fresh attack on the civilian opposition, saying anyone disturbing national stability will be eliminated.

The chairman of the ruling junta, Senior General Than Shwe, has warned opponents of the government that they will be "eliminated" if they threaten the country's stability.

Speaking at a ceremony in Rangoon marking the 55th annual armed forces day he said: "Whoever, with narrow outlook, disturbs the stability and hinders the development of the nation must be eliminated as the common enemy."



Whoever disturbs the stability must be eliminated as the common enemy

General Than Shwe
General Than Shwe, who is also prime minister and leader of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, accused foreign-backed opponents of the regime of trying to weaken the army and further their political ends.

"What is done without considering the national interest will lead to undesirable consequences," he told the 6,000 troops, top generals and war veterans in attendance.

Attack on opposition

His comments were seen as a reference to the civilian opposition movement, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which is led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The NLD, which continues to push for its 1990 election victory to be honoured, held its own ceremony later in the day.

Armed forces day marks the uprising by the army against Japanese occupation forces in World War II - a period when the army was led by Mrs Suu Kyi's father.

The military has governed Burma since 1962. The current regime seized power in 1988 and has since doubled the number of troops. Over one third of the national budget is spent on the military.

The regime has been widely accused of human rights abuses, including subjecting citizens to forced labour. It has also detained thousands of NLD members and kept Mrs Suu Kyi under house arrest for years.

General Than Shwe also called for national unity and appealed to armed insurgent groups fighting the junta in border areas to sign ceasefire deals "and quickly join hands with the army."

The half-hour speech served only to confirm the sense of deep-seated political stalemate in Burma. The international community's efforts to coax the military government into negotiating with the NLD have had little results.

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See also:

30 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Cabinet reshuffle in Burma
20 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma clamps down on web
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