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Myanmar refuses Swiss rights group new permit

Written by: Staff
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YANGON, Mar 3 (Reuters) The Swiss-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue will close its Myanmar office at the end of March after the military junta refused to renew its permit, the group said today.

''I hope it's a temporary measure and I'll be able to come back,'' Leon de Riedmatten, director of the centre's office in Yangon, told Reuters.

The government did not explain why the permit, which expired on February 22, was not renewed, he said.

Other aid and humanitarian groups say their ability to operate has been curtailed since the purge of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in October 2004.

The military, which has ruled the former Burma in various guises since 1962, has also forced the Red Cross to suspend visits to 90 prisons and labour camps since the end of 2005.

The UN Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pulled out in August last year, blaming travel restrictions and other bureaucratic hurdles it said violated Yangon's agreement with the Fund.

Last month, the government issued regulations on how UN agencies and other aid groups must operate, including requiring government officials to accompany staff on trips in Myanmar.

REUTERS PR SP130

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