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Burma Publishes Text of Draft Constitution


Burma's military government has published the text of its controversial draft constitution that will be put before voters in a national referendum scheduled for May 10.

The 194-page document went on sale Wednesday. If more that half the eligible voters approve the draft, the constitution will guarantee Burma's military a continued role in government and ban Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from holding public office.

Meanwhile in Washington, President Bush and visiting Senior Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, discussed the situation in Burma.

Mr. Bush expressed disappointment with the progress made in the country so far, and said the Burmese military regime needs to understand that they should not fear their own people.

Mr. Goh said that while the army is the problem, it also has to be part of the solution.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has urged citizens to vote "no" when the charter comes up for approval in May.

The document bars Aung San Suu Kyi from office because she was once married to a foreigner, a British citizen who died of cancer in 1999.

It also allots 25 percent of the seats in both houses of parliament to the military and says no amendments can be made to the charter without support from 75 percent of lawmakers.

International critics have denounced the proposed constitution, saying it solidifies the military's hold on power.

After the referendum on the constitution, Burma's military government plans to hold general elections in 2010.

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