By LAWI WENG
Burma’s main opposition party repeated its calls for the ruling junta to begin a dialogue with its opponents and release all political prisoners during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of an important event in the country’s military history.
“Open talk is the best answer to solve political problems in Burma,” said National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesperson Nyan Win. He added that the junta was also urged to allow the party to reopen all of its offices around the country.
The NLD held the ceremony to mark Resistance Day—known officially as Armed Forces Day—at its Rangoon headquarters. Around 500 people attended the annual gathering, which commemorates an uprising against Japanese military occupation during the Second World War.
Meanwhile, Burma’s military government held its own Armed Forces Day ceremony at its new capital of Naypyidaw. More than 13,000 troops were on parade during the ceremony, which was attended by the junta’s supreme leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe.
In a speech to the troops, Than Shwe rejected calls from the NLD and other opposition groups for a review of a new constitution approved last year in a referendum widely denounced as a sham.
There will be no review, the general said, because the “constitution (was) adopted by the people,” adding that Burmese must not accept “foreign ideologies” if they want to achieve democracy.
The NLD has recently urged the US to initiate talks with the junta to start a process of dialogue. Stephen Blake, the director of the US State Department’s Office of Mainland Southeast Asia, met with Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win during a trip to Naypyidaw earlier this week.
According to sources in Rangoon, security has been tight in the former capital following a bomb blast on Thursday that killed one man and injured three women in a boarding house in North Okkalapa Township.
An official said that the authorities believe the victim was making explosives. Although terrorism is rare in Burma, the military government often accuses opposition groups of trying to destabilize the country with violence.