More than 1,000 primary and secondary school students fasted Monday as thousands of demonstrators marched through Rangoon to press for an interim government to lead Burma to democracy.
Key opposition leaders jointly rejected the government's plan to hold a general election, and reiterated demands for an interim government. State-run Radio Rangoon said the State Council met with the newly formed Commission on Elections to work out polling details, naming Ba Htay as commission chairman.The students, age 10 to 17, began the 36-hour fast Sunday at the Rangoon General Hospital compound. The students held up banners and shouted "Give Us Democracy!" and "Give Us Interim Government!" They said their fast would end Monday night.
Meanwhile, many thousands of student-led demonstrators marched through the capital to press for an interim government and multiparty democracy.
More soldiers were seen on the streets Monday, but they did not interfere with the protesters, who dispersed peacefully.
President Maung Maung has rejected the call for an interim government. But Saturday he bowed to weeks of nationwide protests and announced the ruling party would hold the first multiparty general election since 1960.
Parliament on Sunday authorized the government to amend the constitution to permit a multiparty system and hold the election in as little as six weeks.
But the demonstrators clearly remain skeptical of the promise and the protests have continued.
Burma scholars note the present constitution is designed to support single-party rule, and would have to be virtually scrapped rather than amended to permit multiparty elections.
Burma expert Josef Silverstein, contacted by The Associated Press from Bangkok, Thailand, said the constitution gives the president and central government great power, and enshrines the rigid party policies known as the "Burmese way to socialism."
Opposition leaders Aung Gyi, former Defense Minister Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi issued their demand for an interim government in a letter to Maung Maung. It was the first joint statement from the three opposition leaders.