News / Asia

US Announces Limited Easing of Sanctions Against Burma

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, left, listens to Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi talk to journalists during a press conference after their meeting at her home in Yangon. The Obama administration has support from key Republicans to restore full
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, left, listens to Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi talk to journalists during a press conference after their meeting at her home in Yangon. The Obama administration has support from key Republicans to restore full

The United States has eased one of its many sanctions against Burma in response to democratic reforms made by the country's military-backed government.

The State Department said late Monday it is lifting opposition to assessments of Burma by international financial institutions. The move will make it easier for the country to secure help from organizations such as the World Bank or the IMF.

Washington said it is encouraged by Burma's recent democratic reforms, including its decision to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run in upcoming elections.

Burma's Election Commission on Monday granted official approval to the Nobel Laureate's candidacy for the April parliamentary bi-election.

The State Department also praised Burma for releasing political prisoners, implementing broader civil liberties and holding peace talks with ethnic rebel groups. In addition, it praised Burma for "taking steps" to address human trafficking concerns.

But U.S. officials insist that Burma must continue its reforms before other sanctions are lifted. The economic, political and trade sanctions have been in place for decades because of human rights abuses by the country's former military government, which stepped down last March.

Nicholas Farrelly, a Burma analyst at the Australian National University, says the U.S. decision will likely embolden those within the government to continue making reforms. "They will feel justified that some of the risks that they've been taking over recent months are now starting to generate a positive response internationally, and that will likely only continue this process of reform and reinforce some of the decisions being made," he said.

The April elections are seen as a key test of whether the country's new military-backed civilian government can continue its path toward democracy.

On Sunday, A United Nations human rights envoy said Burma is considering allowing foreign observers to monitor the April elections. Tomas Ojea Quintana lauded the recent reforms but warned of "a risk of backtracking on the progress achieved thus far." He said the elections are a "key test" of the regimes commitment to reform.

The by-election is being held to fill 48 parliamentary seats vacated by lawmakers who were appointed to the Cabinet and other posts.  Even if the NLD sweeps the polls, it will have minimal power. The 440-seat lower house of Parliament is heavily weighted with military appointees and allies of the former military junta.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid