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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 16:24 GMT
Burma rules out NLD reform role
Burma's Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsa speaking at a press conference in Naypyidaw (3/12/2007)
Mr Kyaw blamed the uprisings on "bogus" monks and foreign groups
Burma's military government has said there is no role for the opposition in the drafting of a new constitution.

The announcement comes despite international pressure for the regime to open up the process of reform and engage with other parties.

At a rare press conference, Burmese Information Minister Kyaw Hsan said the military-appointed reform panel did not need outside help.

Mr Kyaw also dismissed the anti-junta protests in September as "trivial".

After 14 years of talks, the 54-member panel has now begun work on the new constitution, the third stage of what the military government calls its "seven stage path to democracy".

But the process has been dismissed as a sham by Western governments who say it is entirely controlled by the military regime.

Criticism of the proposed charter is a criminal offence and delegates who have challenged the military over reform have been given lengthy jail sentences.

'Positive developments'

Speaking at the first press conference since the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this year, Mr Kyaw ruled out any role for the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the process.

"No assistance or advice from other persons is required," he said, adding that "it is not reasonable or fair to amend those principles adopted by the delegates".

The uprisings dissolved within a very short time frame simply because the general public did not take part
General Kyaw Hsan

The decision comes despite three well-publicised meetings between Ms Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, and Aung Kyi, the official appointed to liaise with her.

Mr Aung said there had been "positive developments" from the talks but did not give further details.

However sources in Burma have told the BBC that the talks are still at a confidence-building stage and any developments would have been mentioned in the press conference.

Protests dismissed

Mr Kyaw also used the press conference to dismiss international concern over the regime's violent response to the recent pro-democracy protests.

He dismissed the protests as "trivial for the whole country", blaming them on "bogus" monks and the involvement of foreign pro-democracy groups.

"The uprisings dissolved within a very short time-frame simply because the general public did not take part and our security forces were able to make pre-emptive strikes," he said.

International pressure on Burma has increased since the crackdown.

The military says 10 people died, but diplomats fear the toll was far higher. Thousands of others were arrested.

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