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Burma's Leader Calls on People to Back Road Map to Democracy


The chief of Burma's military government has called on all citizens to support a controversial road map to democracy.

In an 88th National Day message carried Saturday by the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, Senior General Than Shwe said the people are duty-bound to actively participate in the drive to see the seven-step road map to its end.

Than Shwe also warned citizens to be vigilant against foreign powers who he said were interfering in countries' internal affairs.

Under the government's road map to democracy, Burma has adopted a new constitution after a widely-criticized referendum held days after cyclone Nargis ravaged large areas of the country in early May, killing more than 100,000 people.

Burma's government says the constitution implements democratic reforms, but critics argue it tightens the military's grip on power.

The constitution guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats will be held by the military. It also allows the military to take over government during a state of emergency, and it bans detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from public office because she was married to a foreigner.

A military government has ruled Burma since 1962. The opposition party won the last general elections in 1990. But military leaders never recognized the results of that race and instead have kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.