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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.