News

    Burma's Suu Kyi Takes Office With Political Plans Still Unclear

    Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2nd L) along with other elected members of parliament reads her parliamentary oath at the lower house of parliament during a session in Naypyidaw, May 2, 2012.
    Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2nd L) along with other elected members of parliament reads her parliamentary oath at the lower house of parliament during a session in Naypyidaw, May 2, 2012.

    Burma’s elected democratic opposition has been sworn into office in a ceremony in parliament marking an historic turn in the country’s military-run politics. But analysts say the opposition has little power and a lot to learn about politics.

    In a scene that would have been unthinkable just months ago, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected members of her National League for Democracy officially took their seats Wednesday in parliament.

    In a special morning ceremony in the capital, Naypyitaw, they read an oath they had previously disputed (and pledged) to safeguard the military-drafted constitution.

    Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters she had tremendous good will toward the military, despite the opposition desire to reduce its power and presence in the parliament.

    “We would like our parliament to be in line with genuine democratic values," she said. "It is not because we want to remove anybody as such.  We just want to make the kind of improvements that remain - a national assembly, a truly democratic one."

    The ceremony was delayed following the NLD's landslide win in the April 1 by-election, because it wanted the wording of the oath changed to say “respect” the constitution. The NLD wants to change the charter to give less power to the military, now guaranteed a quarter of parliament seats and the legal authority to take power in cases of national emergency.

    But Aung San Suu Kyi announced Monday the NLD gave up its demand in the interest of moving politics forward.

    Analysts say the opposition has a lot to learn about politics. Aside from amending the constitution, the NLD has only vague platforms of supporting rule of law, peace with ethnic rebels, and development.

    Vahu Development Institute analyst Aung Thu Nyein says the NLD is still a party of activists, in need of help with political strategy.

    “But one of the strong points for the NLD is they got popular support," said Aung Thu Nyein. "It is not that difficult [for] the NLD to organize a kind of consultative section - maybe retired bureaucrats or the other economists, academics and the other strategists.”

    Despite its April election win, the NLD has less than eight percent of seats in parliament, giving it little power to pursue its agenda. But observers say almost universal respect and support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD gives them leverage.

    The director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, Thitinan Pongsudhirak says expectations are high for the opposition and reform-minded President Thein Sein.

    “At the same time the expectations will also put pressure on the Thein Sein regime and the generals in the background," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak. "They must know that all eyes in the international community, in the region, and domestically are focused on them.”

    Burma’s military has ruled the country since 1962. In 2010 it held flawed elections that sidelined the NLD, but brought a nominally civilian government to power.

    President Thein Sein, a former general, then surprised critics with a series of reforms that have led Western governments to suspend and lift sanctions against Burma.

    He met directly with Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released after 15 years of house arrest, and allowed the NLD to contest the April election.

    Although the NLD is now the official opposition in parliament, little political debate is expected until the legislative session resumes in July.

    Next month, Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to take her first overseas trip since her release. She will travel to Norway to be honored for the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991, when the military was still holding her under house arrest.  


    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: winny
    May 02, 2012 8:00 AM
    It is not going to be an easy task for DASSK and Thein Sein government but at least both sides are trying their very best to make it work. Despite of all the differences they should try to get along and do what is best for their country as well as their people. The people had suffered tremendously under the military regime. I am sure DASSK will make the right choice and leave all the differences behind for the sake of the Burmese people.

    by: RK Singh
    May 02, 2012 3:06 AM
    In the present context in Myanmar it has got to be give and take.It would be a wonderful gesture on the part of Thein Sein govt to co-opt Daw Suu Kyi and other opposition members to form a national government till the next elections, in which NLD will be able to able to muster a majority on its own. Maybe Suu Kyi can be appointed as Foreign Minister.

    by: Vengoot
    May 02, 2012 2:27 AM
    She is a rare qoulity that equals Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. She never touched arms and never advised her followers to indulge in violence. More than that she was home arrested for more then one decade by the military jaunta of Mynamar. It is only her will power that made her famous and now she became a Parliament member. i wish her success to lead her country in near future.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora