Archive for April 18th, 2008
Bush, Brown Call for Referendum Observers
By LALIT K JHA / NEW YORK
Friday, April 18, 2008
US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday reiterated their commitment to restore democracy and human rights in Burma and called on the military government to invite international observers to the May 10 constitutional referendum.
The Burma issue was discussed during the meeting of the two leaders—among the most steadfast supporters of Burma’s pro-democracy movement—at the White House in Washington DC.
Emerging from the meeting with Bush, Brown told the media: “We reiterated our common stand on Burma, where it is important to repeat the call for reconciliation.” Details of the discussion were not released.
A US-sponsored draft of a presidential statement is pending for discussion in the UN Security Council and is expected to be opposed by Russia and China, permanent members of the Security Council, and supporters of the Burmese regime.
Commenting on the May 10 referendum on the draft constitution, a US National Security Council spokesman said: “They [Britain] are as concerned as we are about the process leading to the referendum—the fact that groups in Burma are not allowed to express their position on the referendum freely; the fact that the referendum is a flawed referendum at this point that bars certain people from even engaging and holding public office because they were married to foreigners, or are married to foreigners; the fact that the referendum and the constitution talk about 25 percent of the seats in the legislature being reserved for the military. You know, all of these things need a free and fair airing, and that’s not happening right now in Burma.”
He said the military junta should invite international monitors.
“The British have called for this, and we have called for this, and the UN has called for this,” he said.
“How can you make sure, in a place like Burma, where freedom has been so restricted, that the process of holding a referendum really is open,” he asked.
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