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Alternative Asean Network on Burma
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BURMA’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE ASEAN CHAIR – RETREAT OR DEFEAT?

 
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On 26 July 2005, the SPDC withdrew its claim to the ASEAN chair, causing a massive loss of face for Snr Gen Than Shwe and his cronies.

The move has been followed by intense speculation – that Than Shwe has been ousted, and that the military leadership will become further isolated from the concerns of the international community. With the military regime in a weakened state, now is the time for ASEAN and the international community to push the junta towards genuine and comprehensive reforms for democratization in Burma.

Also in the lead up to the decision, over 200 prisoners were released, apparently in an attempt to appease international opinion. Crackdowns on political dissent continue, and the situation remains tense between the SPDC Army and ethnic groups as the SPDC reinforces its military presence in several territories, and opposition groups resist committing to the junta’s “road map”.

Pressure on the junta leadership has been exacerbated by the humanitarian crisis and failing economy. The delivery of humanitarian aid is severely frustrated by junta restrictions, while widespread food shortages continue.