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Burmese Democracy Party to Skip Swearing In

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is mobbed as she leaves her office in Yangon April 22, 2012.
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is mobbed as she leaves her office in Yangon April 22, 2012.

Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, set to be seated Monday for the first time in parliament, says it will not attend the swearing in because of a dispute over language in the oath of office.

The Nobel laureate was one of 43 office seekers from her National League for Democracy party elected to parliament in landslide polls April 1.  

Officials confirmed Sunday the NLD contingent will not be present until oath language requiring them to protect a constitution written by the country's former military junta is changed.  The opposition party wants the word "safeguard" changed to "respect," but the ruling party of President Thein Sein has so far refused to do so.

Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking Sunday, stopped short of calling her party's action a boycott.

"We are not boycotting, but we are just waiting for the right time to go. Discussion is still going on."

Before the April 1 by-elections, Aung San Suu Kyi said one of her priorities as a legislator would be to amend the 2008 constitution, under which a full quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for unelected members of the military.

The latest dispute cast a shadow over rapidly-thawing ties between Burma, isolated under a half-century of military rule, and the international community, which has pledged to ease long-standing economic sanctions in return for democratic reforms promised by the new, nominally civilian government.

Buoyed by recent overtures from the government, Aung San Suu Kyi has supported European and U.S. moves to begin lifting some sanctions. She has also announced plans for her first trip abroad in 24 years, after spending much of the past two decades under house arrest ordered by the former military government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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