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Cablegate: Second National Convention Committee

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS RANGOON 001264

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE ALSO FOR EAP/BCLTV
COMMERCE FOR ITA JEAN KELLY
TREASURY FOR OASIA JEFF NEIL
USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM BM
SUBJECT: SECOND NATIONAL CONVENTION COMMITTEE
"RECONSTITUTED"

REF: A. RANGOON 1259
B. RANGOON 1093

1. (SBU) Summary: By reviving a second defunct National
Convention planning committee, and staffing it with
government officials, the Burmese regime is moving nearer to
realizing step one of its seven part democracy plan.
Participation of ethnic minority, and other opposition
groups, is still nowhere in evidence. Packing these
committees with rubber stampers, and refusing to discuss
modalities of a constitutional convention with any outsiders,
may expedite the "successful" re-convening of the National
Convention. However, the farther down the road the GOB goes
without any buy-in from the opposition, the less chance of
the SPDC democracy road map leading to any meaningful
political change. End summary.

SPDC Gives Itself a Push

2. (U) Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC) announced on October 2nd that it would "reconstitute"
the National Convention Convening Work Committee (NCCWC) as
part of its 7-step "road map" to democracy. The first of
these steps is the re-convening of the National Convention,
which was suspended in 1996. The Committee's been staffed
with 35 members, including three active duty military and
three ex-military, and a member of the Union Solidarity
Development Association Central Executive Committee. There
were no members of ethnic or other opposition groups named to
the Committee. The NCCWC will be chaired by U Aung Toe, the
country's chief justice.

3. (U) The NCCWC was first formed in 1992, but has been
defunct since the National Convention was suspended in 1996.
The purpose of the Committee is to offer administrative
support to National Convention delegates -- such as arranging
transportation and publishing services.

4. (U) The reformation of the NCCWC comes on the heels of the
regime's naming of 18 members to the National Convention
Convening Commission (NCCC) -- the body responsible for
organizing and ultimately re-convening the National
Convention (see Ref B). Like the nominees to the NCCWC, the
initial members of the reinvigorated Convening Commission are
all affiliated with the regime -- the Chairman is SPDC
Secretary-2, Lt. General Thein Sein. However, the NCCWC

SIPDIS
members, with a few exceptions, are at first blush not
political hardliners, but senior civil servants in various
logistical, information, and technical fields.

Comment: Where's the Opposition?

5. (SBU) It is discouraging to see the regime steadily march
toward achieving step one of its democratization plan without
including of any ethnic or other opposition group members.
Though this strategy of exclusion may speed up "progress," it
will scuttle any chance that it might lead to some genuine
democratic reform. As reported in Ref A, the major lesson
from UN Special Envoy's recent visit was that the SPDC's road
map could work, but only if both the government and
opposition participated freely and equally in all stages.
Unfortunately, Razali felt that the senior SPDC leadership
had no immediate intention to allow this. The SPDC's
subsequent naming of a second all-GOB National Convention
body offers some concrete proof that his assessment is
correct.
Martinez

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