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Myanmar reopens constitution talks

[JURIST] The ruling military junta in Myanmar [CIA backgrounder] on Monday reopened its constitutional-drafting convention, which has been held intermittently since 1993, in the first step in a seven-stage road map aimed at unification, democracy and free elections. The session could last as long as two months, though it is seen as unlikely that a final draft will result from the meeting. Critics see the convention as a ploy to enable the junta to stay in power, while the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website] is not participating. Although the NLD won a landslide victory in general elections in 1990, the military refused to hand over power, saying that the country first needed a new constitution. NLD's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy website; BBC profile], who remains detained under a recently-extended house arrest [JURIST report], has been banned from attending the convention, despite UN's call for "all the different groups of Myanmar's landscape" to be allowed to participate. The NLD said it will boycott the event. Myanmar's military government is currently detaining over 1,100 political prisoners [JURIST report] and the UN recently agreed to a US request to discuss the human rights violations in Myanmar [JURIST report] for the first time. AP has more.

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