News

    Burmese Democracy Party Skips Parliament Opening

    Lower House lawmakers attend a regular session of parliament in Naypyitaw, Burma, April 23, 2012.
    Lower House lawmakers attend a regular session of parliament in Naypyitaw, Burma, April 23, 2012.

    Burma’s parliament held its opening session Monday, without Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 of her newly elected colleagues from the National League for Democracy.

    The main opposition party campaigned on pledges to amend the country’s constitution. They are now holding up their participation in government over objections to the oath that all parliament members swear at the opening of each legislative session.

    NLD party spokesperson Nyan Win and Aung San Suu Kyi herself have insisted they do not intend to boycott the parliamentary session, and that they believe the objection to the wording of the oath is an issue they can solve quickly.

    They say they want the oath changed to say parliamentarians will "respect" rather than "safeguard" the constitution, which was drafted by the former military government.

    U Thein Nyunt, former NLD member, political prisoner, and founder of the New National Democracy Party, has been a member of parliament since he was elected in 2010.  He said he is saddened not to be joined by other members of the opposition in parliament on Monday.

    He said he expected to see the NLD leaders with whom he has worked since 1990, and also some young leaders who have very good prospects to do good work for the country, but it did not happen.

    Thein Nyunt said he worries the NLD decision could harm voter confidence.  

    Visiting fellow at Australia National University Trevor Wilson pointed out that the NLD had previously objected to the wording of the oath as it appeared in the election law, which was changed by the government and the parliament so that the NLD could participate in the by-election.

    "The NLD is being perfectly consistent in what they're saying, but they don't seem to have acknowledged that there is a legal process that has to be negotiated with the parliament about changing the oath of office as there would be with any parliament," Wilson said.

    Wilson suggested that the NLD might have to take a more conciliatory approach, to build a coalition in parliament that can pass reforms.

    President Thein Sein told reporters in Tokyo Monday that he does not intend to change the constitutional oath, but he is still committed to the country’s ongoing political reforms.

    Aung Thaung, a member of the USDP, the ruling government party, is one of the chief negotiators in talks aimed at ending conflicts with armed ethnic groups in border areas. Many ethnic groups see Aung San Suu Kyi as key to resolving the long-running conflicts.

    Aung Thaung says the government will continue with peace talks with ethnic groups - with or without the NLD leader.  

    Leaders of the National League for Democracy say they are hopeful the standoff over the oath can be resolved within 10 days.

    Sanctions on Burma

    United States


    • Apr. 17, 2012: U.S. Treasury allows U.S. based groups to do charity and humanitarian work in Burma.
    • Apr. 4, 2012: Announced sanctions will be further eased.
    • Arms embargo, bans investment in Burma and most imports.

    Europe


    • Apr. 23, 2012: Suspends trade and economic sanctions for one year.
    • Apr. 13, 2012: British Prime Minister David Cameron called for further easing of sanctions during a visit to Burma.
    • Feb. 2012: Lifted visa restrictions on some top officials.
    • Bans weapons sales, restricts exports, imports and investments.

    Australia


    • Apr. 16, 2012: Lifted travel restrictions, except on senior military officers and human rights abuse suspects.
    • Imposed sanctions against members of Burma's leadership in 2007.

    Canada


    • Apr. 12, 2012: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said sanctions are under review.
    • Banned exports of arms and all non-humanitarian goods in 1988.

    Japan


    • Announced it would resume full development assistance in February 2012 after nine-year freeze.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Burmese Daze
    April 23, 2012 2:36 AM
    The NLD leadership was well aware of the oath in question, yet decided to run for parliamentary seats. We have so much to do in our country. We need time and peace. Not silly acts from a party that should be above pettiness. The people, desperate for jobs, are watching . . .

    by: chamohan
    April 23, 2012 1:57 AM
    if the militry junta is intrested in restoring democracy then they should oblige the sentiments of the duly elected members suggestion,insted of making this a prestige issue the authorities should agree to the members suggestion,a happy situation for all.

    by: Ben
    April 23, 2012 1:55 AM
    And I hope that Burma's economy booms with free market democratic reforms, and shows the world that authoritative isolationism while suppressing human rights does not work.

    Oh course South Korea's economy has a GDP (PPP) of $1,500,000,000,000.00 versus the North's (DPRK)'S astounding 50,000,000,000.00 Bill Gates and Warren Buffet together have more money than North Korea.

    by: gettingboredwithhearingaboutthis
    April 23, 2012 1:54 AM
    hmmmmmmmmm...

    GET ON AND DO IT... These people are becoming hostages to the buzz they get from the media coverage and being martyrs to a cause - you cannot change anything from the outside now you have seats you have to get in there and sort it out elsewise you risk being seen as perpetual runaways and the rulers may lose patience - engage with them since they are showing room for manoeuvre

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    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 Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    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 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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora