Philippines to press Burma on election laws

Philippines Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo

(DVB) The Philippines said Monday it would use an international forum in Manila this week to pressure Burma over new laws blocking Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from elections this year.

Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo said he would raise his concerns with Burma counterpart Nyan Win during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a two-day Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference beginning Wednesday.

“Definitely, it’s a reverse. It’s contrary to the road map to democracy that they pledged to ASEAN and to the world,” Romulo said of the Burma election laws when asked by reporters what he would

Philippines Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo
Philippines Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo
discuss with Nyan Win.

“I am expressing a feeling that I think articulates the belief of those who believe in democracy… it’s Myanmar [Burma] itself that promised to us the road map to democracy. That was their pledge and promise.”

Under the Burma junta’s laws unveiled last week, Suu Kyi faces exclusion from her National League for Democracy (NLD) and is prevented from contesting elections expected late this year on grounds that she is a serving prisoner.

The new laws also officially annul the result of Burma’s last elections in 1990, which the NLD won by a landslide. The junta never allowed the party to take power.

Nyan Win is among 120 senior officials and foreign ministers expected to join the NAM meeting this week that is focused on inter-faith dialogue.

The forum is expected to culminate in the adoption of a Manila declaration aimed at strengthening government and civil society cooperation, including faith-based organisations, officials said.

Romulo said that, while Burma’s democracy issues would likely not be tackled as a specific agenda item during the NAM forum, reconciliation was in the spirit of any inter-faith dialogue.

Romulo also said he would separately urge other members of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to call for a reversal of Burma’s decree during the group’s annual summit in Vietnam next month.

“Definitely, I will,” he said when asked whether he would push for ASEAN to censure its fellow member.

ASEAN has traditionally had a policy of non-interference in each others’ affairs. But that has slowly begun to erode in recent years, with the Philippines taking a leading role in criticising the Burmese junta.

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