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Thursday, 19 February 1959

Mr CASEY - There has been some tension, in recent times, politically in Burma. General Ne Win, who was the head of the armed forces in Burma, was asked to take over the government on a caretaker basis for six months, which can be done under the Burmese constitution. He announced recently, after four or four and a half months of the six months had gone by, that hd wished to resign, cease to be Prime Minister and put the leadership of the government into the hands of the Burmese Parliament. He gave as his reason that under present conditions free and fair elections were not possible in Burma, which had been the purpose of the creation of his caretaker government. Under the Burmese constitution there can be a caretaker government for a period of only six months. It is understood that U Nu and U Ba Swe, the heads of the two factions of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League, are agreeable to an amendment of the constitution to give General Ne Win a further term of caretaker office in order that conditions can be created under which normal democratic elections can be held on a fair basis. I understand that in the last day or so there has been a meeting of the Burmese Parliament at which this matter was to be considered, but I have not yet heard the result. These things have all led to an appreciable degree of tension in Burma in the last month.

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