Burmese opposition minister disappears

BANGKOK (AFP) - Burma's opposition government-in-exile said yesterday that its minister of agriculture and forestry had gone missing in Thailand over the weekend.

In a communique received in the Thai capital, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) suggested the ruling military junta in Rangoon was behind the disappearance. It said that Myint Maung, 56, had been given leave from his duties for health reasons and had gone missing on his arrival in Bangkok from the northern city of Chiang Mai on 26 March.

The NCGUB trade minister, Maung Maung Aye, said Thai police had found no trace of Myint Maung. However, he said he could not rule out the possibility that, given his poor health, Myint Maung had perhaps decided to return to Burma.

The NCGUB communique said that, following investigations, it had 'come to understand that U Myint Maung is now in the hands of the military junta'. It added it was 'highly suspicious' about the junta's role in the disappearance, and noted that two other NCGUB ministers, Win Ko and Hla Pe, who had disappeared separately last year, were later found murdered.

Another two ministers initially reported missing in 1991, Than Kayw and Myint Aung, were later found to have surrendered to the Burmese embassy in Bangkok seeking repatriation.

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