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SCMP-NLD wary of playing charades

Wednesday  May 5  1999

The Mekong Region

NLD wary of playing charades

Aung San Suu Kyi's party revealed its fear of being trapped in "sham
negotiations" by slamming a group of MPs for advocating co-operation with
the military.

A National League for Democracy statement described three of the 25 MPs
involved as "lackeys" of the ruling junta for urging the party to take
advantage of the military's "open door" on negotiations and questioning the
party's tactics in insisting that Ms Aung San Suu Kyi must be part of any

Some of the 25 who signed the letter to the junta have since recanted,
claiming they were tricked into signing the anti-Aung San Suu Kyi missive.

"The NLD is very, very wary of playing in a charade that gets the military
off the hook of international opinion without them offering any real
concessions," one diplomat in Rangoon said.

The party has rejected the regime's offer of talks that do not include its
charismatic and popular leader.

The military may be keen to paint itself as wrongly vilified to deflect
attention from its disastrous handling of the death of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's
husband, Michael Aris, suggests one observer. The regime refused to grant
Aris a visa for a final visit to his wife.