Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Burmese elections a disgrace: Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has slammed the forthcoming elections in Burma as a sham which would merely reinstate a "military government in civilian clothes".

He told an EU-Asia summit in Brussels that the current military regime had failed to heed all demands from the international community amid continued mistreatment of the Burmese people, with 2,100 "prisoners of conscience" in jail.

Mr Clegg declared: "There is still no inclusive process in place to help reconcile the nation, or indeed help it develop socially or economically.

"Not a single expectation of the international community or the Burmese people has been met, and we are now a month away from elections that will do no more than reinstate the military government in civilian clothes - elections that will not be free, nor fair, that will be exploited by a regime responsible for the grave mistreatment of the Burmese people."

Mr Clegg went on: "This is a complete disgrace, and we should all be prepared to say so.

"So the UK is unequivocal: Burma must co-operate fully with the UN Secretary-General's Good Offices Mission.

"All political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, must be released, without delay.

"And let there be no doubt that the elections will not fulfil the expectations of the international community, and nor will they be a legitimate expression of the will of the people of Burma."

Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Mr Clegg said the UK was urging all Asian and European leaders "to speak with one voice against the gross mistreatment of the Burmese people".

He continued: "This week is an opportunity for Asian and European nations to reaffirm that message. Military men must know that swapping their uniforms for suits will not change the demands of the international community. We will not be pacified by a democratic facade. Our expectations will not drop."


From Belfast Telegraph