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Reuters-Nine years after poll, Myan

Subject: Reuters-Nine years after poll, Myanmar says on right track 

Nine years after poll, Myanmar says on right track
03:17 a.m. May 27, 1999 Eastern
YANGON, May 27 (Reuters) - On the ninth anniversary of an opposition
election win it ignored, Myanmar's military government said on Thursday it
believed it was on the right political track.

Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, the powerful intelligence chief, said his
government's chosen path would guarantee peace, stability and prosperity.

``There have been some allegations casting doubt on the political future of
the nation,'' he told a regional meeting in Yangon. ``I wish to take this
opportunity to state categorically that Myanmar is on the right political

``At the moment, the government may be in the form of a military government
but it is an administration which is laying the foundations for the
establishment of a democratic system that is in keeping with the conditions
of the country as well as the aspirations of the entire people,'' he said.

He said a ``constitutional government'' would be be established once the
drafting of a new constitution had been concluded.

Drafting of a new constitution began in the early 1990s and has stalled for
some years now. Khin Nyunt gave no indication when the process might be

He said the work the government was doing to improve the economy would help
create a modern, developed state.

``When we assumed responsibilities in 1988, the country was in chaos and on
the verge of disintegration and the economy had broken down completely and
foreign reserves were virtually exhausted,'' Khin Nyunt said.

He said preliminary figures showed that Myanmar's economy grew 5.6 percent
last fiscal year to March, against 5.7 percent the previous year and 6.4
percent the year before that.

His assessment contrasts with an Asian Development Bank report last month
which said Myanmar's economy would continue to have slow growth and
inflation was not expected to fall much from a current rate of around 50

The ADB estimated growth at three to four percent last year and said it was
expected to stay at similar levels this year.

The military seized direct power in 1988 by bloodily suppressing an uprising
against more than a quarter century of army-backed socialism that reduced

the economy to ruin.

On May 27, 1990, it held a democratic election but ignored the result when
the National League for Democracy, which is led by Nobel peace laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi, won by a landslide.

To justify its continuing hold on power it has focused on improving the
economy through market reforms, but its efforts have been hampered by the
Asian financial crisis.

On Wednesday, the government said foreign direct investment plummeted 70
percent last year and that the agriculture-based economy had also been hit
by poor weather.

In addition, Myanmar has been slapped with sanctions by the United States
and the European Union for its poor human rights record and suppression of
the opposition.

Earlier on Thursday, the NLD waved an olive branch by saying it was willing
to enter a dialogue with the military at any time.

``I think they (the military) are trying to find a way to come up with
dialogue,'' NLD vice president Tin Oo told Reuters.

``We are quite optimistic...If they are genuine and sincere about democracy,
it can be dialogue at any time,'' he said.

The military's refusal to talk to Suu Kyi has been a stumbling block to
dialogue. Tin Oo said NLD did mind at what level the talks started.