YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s military junta dismissed a U.N. statement Friday calling for dialogue with the pro-democracy opposition, insisting that it would follow its own roadmap toward reform — a plan critics say is a ruse aimed at extending the government’s grip on power.
The impoverished country’s main opposition party, however, hailed the U.N. declaration and urged the ruling generals to comply with demands for negotiations with pro democracy forces and ethnic minorities, and the release of political prisoners.
State-run TV and radio issued a statement Friday arguing that conditions inside Myanmar — a reference to the anti government protests that were violently suppressed by troops on Sept. 26 and 27 — were not the concern of the outside world.
“Myanmar’s current situation does not affect regional and international stability,” said the statement, attributed to Col. Thant Shin. “However, we deeply regret that the U.N. Security Council has issued a statement contrary to the people’s desires.” “The government of Myanmar will continue to implement the seven-step roadmap together with the people,” the statement said, referring to the junta’s plan that promises a new constitution and an eventual transition to democratic rule.
The road map process is supposed to culminate in a general election at an unspecified date in the future. But so far only the first stage — drawing up guidelines for a new constitution — has been completed, and critics say the convention that drafted them was stage-managed by the military.
Top opposition party the National League for Democracy — led by detained activist Aung San Suu Kyi — endorsed the Security Council statement.
“Since Myanmar is a member country of the United Nations and as the government has declared it would work with the U.N., we earnestly underscore the need to urgently implement the demands made by the Security Council,” the NLD said.
The 15-member Security Council issued its first statement on Myanmar on Thursday in an attempt to pressure the military rulers — in charge of the isolated country since 1988 — to enter a dialogue with the opposition and make moves toward democratic reforms.