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Burma's Ruling General Vows to Follow Roadmap to Democracy

Burma's military leader says he is committed to going ahead with the country's "road map" to democracy.

The official New Light of Myanmar newspaper Saturday quoted Senior General Than Shwe as saying the process of building a new nation is a process involving the entire nation.

The paper said that in a speech Friday, the general said the road map was the only means to a smooth transition towards a new state.

Under the ruling generals' road map, Burma will adopt a constitution in a referendum that would eventually lead to free elections.

But the United States, European Union and United Nations have dismissed the lengthy proceedings as a sham, due to the absence of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party.

In early September, the military government ended 14 years of talks to draft guidelines for a new constitution.

Friday in Bangkok, a U.N. human-rights envoy says he was told the Burmese military's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations two months ago killed at least 15 people in Rangoon alone.

The United Nations representative, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, says he cannot tell whether the casualty estimate is accurate, but that Burmese authorities told him it was based on official documents.

Burma's military rulers previously had said 10 people died in the September protests.

Pinheiro traveled to Thailand after a five-day trip to Burma - his first visit in four years - which was intended to uncover details of human-rights violations committed during and after the September crackdown.

He is expected to present a report on his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council on December 11.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.