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Burma Considers Prisoner Amnesty Before 2010 Elections


Burma's ambassador to the United Nations says the military government is considering an amnesty for prisoners at the request of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, so they can participate in next year's general elections.

Ambassador U Than Swe told the U.N. Security Council Monday his government intends to implement "all appropriate recommendations" made by Mr. Ban.

The U.N. chief said the amnesty is "encouraging," but that he will have to see who is included in it. He said he would also have to see how Burma deals with other issues he raised during his visit earlier this month.

Mr. Ban said it was a "deep disappointment" he was not allowed to meet imprisoned pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi while in Burma, calling the decision a "major lost opportunity" for Burma.

He said that during talks with Prime Minister Than Shwe, the Senior General, he proposed releasing all political prisoners, resuming a dialogue with the opposition, and creating conditions for credible and legitimate elections.

Critics say the elections cannot be free since Aung San Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from participating because she was married to a foreign national.

The new constitution also reserves a quarter of the parliamentary seats for military members.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won the country's last elections in 1990, but the military refused to honor the results.

She is currently facing five years in prison on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest by letting an uninvited American to stay at her home without official permission. She has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.

U.S. representative to the U.N., Rosemary DiCarlo called the charges "illegitimate."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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