German Chancellor Questions Burma’s Bid for ASEAN Chair

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for Burma to improve its human rights record before it is permitted to serve as chair of ASEAN.

Speaking Thursday at an international forum in Singapore, Ms. Merkel said she is “a little bit concerned” about Burma's bid to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

The German chancellor noted longstanding concerns about Burma's human rights record and called for the country's new government to demonstrate with deeds as well as words that it is serious about moving toward democracy.

ASEAN leaders said last month they did not object in principle to Burma's bid to host the ASEAN summit in two years. Ms. Merkel said the countries should discuss the matter openly before making a final decision.

A previous bid by Burma to serve as the ASEAN chair was set aside in 2006 because of the country's human rights record.

Burma says it embarked on a path to democracy with its first elections in 20 years in November and the dissolution of a long-ruling military junta at the end of March. However past and present military officers hold most key positions in the new government, and more than 2,100 political prisoners remain in custody.