UN Chief Praises Burma’s Suu Kyi for Ending Boycott of Parliament

Posted May 1st, 2012 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is praising Burma's newly elected lawmaker and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for agreeing to end a boycott of the country's military-dominated parliament.

Mr. Ban made his comments Tuesday while meeting with the Nobel laureate at her lakeside home in the commercial capital of Rangoon.

“I know that it must have been a very difficult decision. Politicians will sometimes continue to have differences on some issues. But real leaders demonstrate flexibility for the greater cause of a people of a country. And this is what she has done.”

Monday Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition National League for Democracy party announced they would attend parliament for the first time on Wednesday to take the oath of office.

The NLD had objected to phrasing in the oath obligating lawmakers to “safeguard the constitution,” which was drafted by the country's former military rulers and that sets aside a quarter of all seats in parliament for unelected military members.

The opposition group has now agreed to take the oath of office, but vows to push for constitutional change through legislative action. Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday that she was willing to make a compromise for the sake of reform.

“We have always believed in being flexible throughout the years of our struggle, because that is the only way we can achieve our goal without violence. So I do not think flexibility is going to be a new concept for us.”

It is the first meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the U.N. chief, who is on a three-day visit to Burma

In an address to Burma's parliament Monday, Mr. Ban expressed support for democratic reforms initiated by the country's new nominally-civilian government that took office last year.

Mr. Ban, speaking in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, hailed what he called the “vision, leadership and courage” of President Thein Sein, whose initiatives include clearing the way for Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow party members to run for parliament in the by-election on April 1.

The U.N. chief also praised the international community for its moves to ease long-standing sanctions imposed on the former military regime, and called for foreign investment in the Southeast Asian nation.