Than Shwe urges USDA to forge ahead

by Mungpi
Monday, 30 November 2009 02:50

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s military junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe on Friday patted on the back his puppet civilian organization – the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) – for a job well-done for the past 16 years and urged it to carry on with gusto until the junta’s Seven-Step Roadmap is wrapped up.

Than Shwe, in his speech on the last day of the USDA’s Annual General Meeting, expressed his appreciation of the USDA, but urged it to continue to safeguard non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty of the country, according to the state-own New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Saturday.

Burma’s military rulers claim that they are the saviors of the Union, where several groups are struggling to break away, and justify that their rule for the past 20 years have ushered in stability and peace in the country.

“Therefore, you are…. to safeguard non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty with true patriotic spirit,” Than Shwe, patron of the USDA told the meeting, held in Naypyitaw. He also urged the USDA to cooperate in the successful implementation of the Seven-Step Roadmap, and to prevent any attempt to harm the interests of the State and the people.

The junta chief, in his speech, re-affirmed that as part of the roadmap to democracy, a general election will be held in 2010, where political parties would be allowed to contest.

“Free and fair elections will be held in 2010 in keeping with the publicly-approved constitution. Political parties, formed based on their different beliefs, will get involved in political activities,” Than Shwe said.

Critics have expressed scepticism about the junta’s statement of ‘Free and Fair elections’, pointing out that the referendum held in May 2008 to approve the new constitution was rigged.

Opposition groups, including detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – the National League for Democracy – have demanded a revision of the 2008 constitution, which will be used as the base for next year’s election.

While Burma watchers and analysts had earlier speculated that the USDA might be transformed into a political party that will be backed by the junta, a USDA official in Naypyitaw told Mizzima that so far there has not been any ‘orders from above’ to transform the group into a political outfit.

The USDA, which was formed by Than Shwe in 1993, has been widely known for carrying out orders from the junta including those to crackdown on protesters during the Buddhist monk-led protests in September 2007.

The junta claims that the USDA has a membership of over 20 million, nearly half of Burma’s over 50 million population.

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