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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 18:33 GMT
Burma confirms draft constitution
Burma's leader Than Shwe stands in front of statues of ancient kings on Armed Forces Day on 28 March 2007
Critics say the constitution will strengthen the junta's power
Burma's military government has announced that a draft of the nation's new constitution has been completed.

The draft will be put to a referendum in May, and be followed by elections in 2010, according to state media.

The new constitution will bar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from standing as a candidate because she had a foreign husband.

Ms Suu Kyi's party said it was "unjust" to ban her from standing before the draft was even approved.

In a statement read out on state media, Supreme Court Chief Justice Aung Toe said that "after repeated discussions" the constitution had been agreed on by all commission members.

Little is known of the contents of the document, which was drawn up without the participation of the country's political opposition or ethnic groups.

The country has not had a constitution since the military seized power in 1990, after refusing the recognise Ms Suu Kyi's victory in the national election.

The pro-democracy leader has spent most of the years since then in jail or under house arrest.

'Unjust'

Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured in November 2007

Speaking during an informal meeting of ministers of the Association of South East Asia Nations (Asean), Burma's Foreign Minister Nyan Win reportedly said that Ms Suu Kyi would be barred from running for office under the draft constitution.

According to AFP, this is because she married Michael Aris, a British citizen who died of cancer in 1999.

A spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, also called Nyan Win, said it was "unjust for the authorities to talk in advance about the elections" before election laws were put in place.

Critics have questioned whether the Burmese government really intends to stick to the schedule for democratic elections, after years of delays over its "roadmap to democracy".





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