Myanmar junta leader warns against disrupting 'democracy'

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, right, greets members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) during a cerebration to mark the 64th Union Day at its headquarters Saturday, February 12 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP  Photo)
NAYPYITAW, February 12 (AP): The leader of Myanmar's junta warned against any "disruption" of the country's new military-dominated government, urging people Saturday to protect what he called the country's nascent "democracy system" a day after a Cabinet was approved. Senior Gen. Than Shwe issued the call as the regime held a lavish national celebration at the isolated capital that will serve as headquarters for the new civilian government.
After decades of repressive military rule, critics say that Myanmar's self-described transition to democracy is a charade and that last year's election was orchestrated to perpetuate military rule. With one quarter of the seats in the new parliament filled by military appointees, and a lion's share of the remaining seats won by a military backed party, the army effectively retains power.
The future role of the junta - officially known as the State Peace and Development Council - remains unclear, though it is certain that the military will continue to be the dominant force in government. Than Shwe's message on Saturday for Union Day called on the nation's citizens to build and safeguard a "democracy system" that is "still in its infancy."
The new parliament on Friday unanimously approved all of President-elect Thein Sein's Cabinet nominees, although they were not told which post each would take, Thein Sein, who was elected by parliament last week, was prime minister and a top member of the military junta that is handing over power to the new government. Most of the Cabinet appointees are former military officers who retired in order to run in last November's elections and about a dozen were ministers in the junta's Cabinet. Only four of the appointees are strictly civilian.
No reason to lift sanctions: Suu Kyi

YANGON, February 12 (Reuters):
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Saturday she saw no reason for Western countries to lift sanctions against the military-dominated government, but the issue had to be discussed. Myanmar, ruled by the military since a 1962 coup, held its first elections in two decades last year and authorities later released Suu Kyi from house arrest. But the military shows no sign of loosening its grip.
Suu Kyi's political party said on Tuesday it supported Western sanctions but wanted talks on whether to modify them, signaling a willingness to discuss a more flexible approach. Suu Kyi, asked by Reuters at a party function on Saturday to elaborate, said sanctions had to be discussed. "Whether or not to lift the sanctions is something to be decided after discussions," she said. "At the present situation, I don't see any reason to lift the sanctions."
She did not elaborate on who should discuss the issue. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the previous election in 1990 but was never allowed to govern, was officially disbanded for refusing to take part in last November's polls. The vote was, as expected, swept by the main pro-military party and the generals have given no indication they will really relinquish power to new civilian rulers.