Myanmar unity govt tells Asean no talks until prisoners freed

MYANMAR: Myanmar's pro-democracy unity government, formed to oppose the military junta, yesterday ruled out talks with Asean until all political prisoners are released.

The 10-member Asean group has been trying to find a path for Myanmar out of the bloody turmoil that followed the Feb 1 coup and called for an end to violence and talks between all sides.

But the junta has already declined to accept proposals to resolve the crisis that emerged from an Asean summit last weekend that was attended by Myanmar's Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

The pro-democracy National Unity Government (NUG), which includes members of Parliament ousted by the coup, said South-east Asia's regional bloc should be engaging with it as the legitimate representative of the people.

"Before any constructive dialogue can take place, however, there must be an unconditional release of political prisoners including president U Win Myint and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi," the NUG prime minister, Mr Mahn Win Khaing Than, said in a statement.

Pro-democracy protests have taken place in cities and towns across the country since the coup.

The military has cracked down on the protesters, killing more than 750 people, an activist group said.

Protesters marched in support of the NUG in Mandalay yesterday, the Myanmar Now media outlet reported.

There was no report of violence. - REUTERS