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US Criticizes Burma's New Draft Constitution


The United States has criticized a constitution proposed by Burma's military government that bans pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from seeking office.

White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Wednesday Burma's military government should start working on a new draft.

Burmese officials said earlier that Aung San Suu Kyi would not be allowed to run under the proposed charter because she was married to a foreigner. The democracy leader was married to a British citizen, who died of cancer in 1999.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, also voiced its concern, but says it will not interfere in Burma's domestic affairs. Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo called Burma's decision to bar Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in future elections odd and out of date, but added that the group could do little about it. Singapore currently holds ASEAN's rotating presidency.

Executive director of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus based in Malaysia, Roshan Jason, called ASEAN's statement "weak." A recently signed charter calls on member states to protect human rights in the region.

Burma's previous constitution was scrapped in 1988, and the country recently announced plans to hold a national referendum in May to approve the new document. General elections are scheduled to follow in 2010.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the last 18 years under some form of detention and remains under house arrest in Rangoon.

Her party won elections in 1990, but the military government refused to recognize the results and prevented the party from taking office.

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