Indonesia urges Myanmar to give regional monitors

Indonesia's president told Myanmar's ruling generals that regional monitors should be allowed to visit the isolated country, saying neighboring Southeast Asian governments needed to be kept informed about its democracy efforts.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's comments followed a two-day visit to Myanmar, the first by a Southeast Asian leader since the region's ASEAN bloc called on the military-ruled country to release political prisoners and implement a political "roadmap" that is supposed to lead to elections.

So far, there have been few signs of progress.

Myanmar's leader Gen. Than Shwe told Yudhoyono he was committed to democracy, but said his country was facing "problems" and "needed political stability" before moving forward, presidential spokesman Dino Pati Djalal said Thursday.

He said Yudhoyono told Than Shwe that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations needed "constant communication" about its democracy efforts, and said regional monitors should be allowed to visit the country.

In January, U.N. special envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail quit his job because the country had not let him visit since March 2004, and a planned trip by Malaysia's foreign minister last month also was canceled.

Myanmar's military junta took power in 1988 after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy protests. It held a general election in 1990, but refused to recognize the results after a landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, reports the AP.


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