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   Main Burma opposition party boycotts National Convention
   RANGOON, Nov 29 (AFP) - Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi said Wednesday her National League for Democracy (NLD) would
boycott the convention framing a new constitution for Burma until
the junta agreed to hold talks.
   The country's military rulers immediately countered with a
charge that the NLD move was aimed at disrupting the convention
with a view to furthering the party's interests rather than those
of the nation.
   Aung San Suu Kyi denied the NLD was seeking confrontation, but
the official reaction indicated it was being interpreted in that
   In a statement evidently prepared in advance and carried in
morning newspapers, the junta held that the current NLD
leadership -- referred to as "a group said to be leader" of the
party -- wanted to dictate terms.
   Last month the NLD reshuffled the party executive, reinstating
Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy leaders who had been
detained by the junta. 
The government however rejected the reshuffle as illegal.
   NLD representatives, who had attended the convention since its
inception in January 1993 and were present at Tuesday's session
marking the resumption after a seven-month hiatus, announced the
boycott in a letter Tuesday night to convention chairmen.
   Aung San Suu Kyi told a news conference Wednesday that the NLD
"will not be attending the convention until such time that a
proper dialogue has been achieved." She gave no details of the
dialogue desired.
   She stressed the party's main aim was dialogue and said the
junta was to blame for any confrontation. 
   "Refusing to talk to people whose views are different and to
silence them by putting them into prison is far more
confrontational then asking to discuss our differences across the
table," she said.
   The question, analysts said, was whether the junta would allow
the face-off to escalate or whether it would choose to ignore the
NLD on the premise it had opted out of the constitutional
   Burmese authorities tightened the reins recently on the NLD,
putting up barricades outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house and
arresting three activists for obstructing police.
   But a "get-tough" attitude risks backfiring against the junta
which gained credit internationally when it released Aung San Suu
Kyi from six years of house arrest in July and turned a blind eye
to the public meetings she held, analysts said.
   Last week, she told reporters that the convention, which is to
frame a constitution under which the military would be granted a
permanent role in future administrations, was being conducted in
an undemocratic manner.
   "We are not trying to destroy the National Convention," she
said Wednesday. "We are trying to make it one that will be
acceptable to the people of Burma and to the international
   The official statement said the convention would continue as
planned, "in accord with the original arrangements, on the basis
of the successes so far achieved at the national convention."
   Hundreds of delegates, many in colorful ethnic dress, streamed
into the convention hall for Wednesday's session, despite the
absence of the NLD.
   "The show must go on," one official said as he watched
officers in military uniforms and delegates in ethnic dress, some
sporting long feathers and bones in their headwear, arrive for
the session.
   The convention comprises delegates from ethnic minority
groups, political parties and others hand-picked by the military
   Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD have complained the convention
aims to legitimise the position of the military, which seized
power in 1988, and that elected politicians made up only 15
percent of those present.
   The military ignored the results of national elections in
1990, which the NLD won by a wide margin.