Thailand hopes Myanmar referendum is ‘credible’
A hawker sells copies of countries new constitution at an intersection in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon
BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand’s foreign minister said Monday he hoped Myanmar’s upcoming referendum on a new constitution would be “credible”, on the eve of a visit by the country’s prime minister.
Noppadon Pattama said the neighbours may discuss the referendum, which Myanmar’s military rulers say will pave the way for elections in 2010, during General Thein Sein’s visit.
“The democracy process could be brought up at the talks as Thailand wants the May 10 referendum to be successful and credible,” Noppadon told reporters.
“We want to see Myanmar on a good development track.”
Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists say the proposed constitution simply entrenches the role of the military, which has ruled since 1962.
Aung San Suu Kyi would be barred from running for president under the new constitution because she was married to a foreigner.
Noppadon said Thailand would not raise her participation in the ballot as it was a “domestic” issue for Myanmar.
The two countries would discuss drugs and the nearly two million illegal workers and almost 200,000 displaced people from Myanmar living in Thailand, he said.
Thein Sein will be accompanied by the foreign, interior, transport, labour and construction ministers for his three-day visit.
He is due to meet with his Thai counterpart Samak Sundaravej and with King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday.
Thailand is one of the biggest investors and trading partners in Myanmar, spending billions of dollars a year to tap into the country’s natural gas and hydropower resources to fuel its own growing economy.