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Opposition Leader Criticizes Burmese Government for Stalling Reforms - 2003-04-23

Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has criticized the military government for stalling democratic reforms.

Aung San Suu Kyi says her party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD, is concerned about the lack of progress in national reconciliation talks with Burma's military government.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the Nobel laureate said if the government is interested in the welfare of the country, it will pursue talks with her party.

Aung San Suu Kyi says the government has no desire for progress or national reconciliation because it would mean change, and change would mean democracy. She questioned its sincerity in its dealing with the NLD.

Talks between the opposition leader and the government, which the United Nations helped start two years ago, have virtually ground to a halt.

The U.N. special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, has expressed frustration over the slow pace of progress and complained that he has not been invited back to the country during the past five months.

Aung San Suu Kyi called on the government to allow Mr. Razali to visit the country again.

The NLD won national elections in 1990 but was never allowed to rule. Its charismatic leader has been under house arrest off and on since then.

The military has ruled Burma for more than 40 years and the government's dismal human rights record has prompted many Western governments to place economic sanctions against it.

Aung San Suu Kyi said Wednesday the sanctions should remain in place until progress has been made on political reforms.