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Philippines Concerned About Burma Elections

The Philippines has raised concerns with Burma about new laws that ban detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from upcoming elections.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo raised the issue with his Burmese counterpart, Nyan Win, in Manila Wednesday. They met on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement conference.

Romulo later told reporters he was not satisfied with the conversation, noting that the Burmese foreign minister did not say much about the election laws.

The laws announced last week prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a crime from running in Burma's polls, or even being a member of a political party. Those rules make it impossible for Aung San Suu Kyi to play a role in the vote.

Burma has not set a date for the election.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party won the country's last elections in 1990, but Burma's military leaders refused to relinquish power to the victorious National League for Democracy.

The Nobel Peace laureate is under house arrest, and has spent 14 of the past 20 years in some form of detention.

A group of ethnic political parties that won seats in the 1990 election appealed to the United Nations chief Wednesday to push Burma toward democracy.

The letter from the United Nationalities Alliance asks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to urge that Burma's government free all political prisoners and begin an inclusive political dialogue. They also called for Burma to stop military operations in ethnic minority areas, and to make the elections free and fair.

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