fading hopes for reconciliation, the deepening economic crisis has
spurred the junta to exploit every opportunity to wheedle aid and
investment from the rest of the world.
While Burma’s people dealt
with tragic consequences of the burgeoning banking crisis, price
hikes and ongoing human rights abuses, the first quarter of 2003
had quite a few triumphs for the generals. A flurry of international
visits by governments and international organizations ensued, and
the EU even lifted its visa ban temporarily to allow the SPDC to
attend the EU-ASEAN summit.
While the EU and US appear to be
losing patience with the regime’s empty promises, the SPDC
has coordinated a series of goodwill visits to shore up support
from Asian neighbours. The SPDC clearly hopes that speeches and
handshakes with international leaders will distract the world from
the ongoing political stalemate.
Despite international political
and economic pressure, no readiness for negotiations can be detected.
How much more external and internal muscle-flexing is necessary
to get the junta to the negotiating table?