Aung San Suu Kyi Urges Full Burmese Army Support for Reforms

Posted September 18th, 2012 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says the path to her nation's democratic future will not be irreversible until the army voices full support for the process.

The 66-year-old Nobel laureate made the comment during interviews Tuesday at the Voice of America studios in Washington. She said she is most troubled by the provision in Burma's constitution — drafted in 2008 by the former military junta — that allows for the army to take control of government when deemed necessary.

But she also credited President Thein Sein, a former general, for launching democratic reforms after taking office last year. Since then, the government has released hundreds of political prisoners. It announced Monday that it will set free more than 500 additional detainees jailed during five decades of military rule. Western governments have responded by lifting many harsh economic sanctions aimed at bringing about democratic change.

Referring to her 15 years under military ordered house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi said “I was on a path I had chosen.” She also said she was “perfectly prepared” to endure the hardships that she encountered during that time.

Earlier Tuesday, she met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said there was a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm about the Nobel Peace Prize winner's trip. Afterward, Aung San Suu Kyi said she fully supports the easing of the remaining U.S. economic sanctions.

Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in the United States Monday for a 17-day visit that marks her first visit to America since her 2010 release from military detention. Part of her trip overlaps with next week's visit by Burmese President Thein Sein, who will address the United Nations General Assembly.

Other stops on her visit include the states of California, New York and Indiana. Fort Wayne, Indiana is home to one of the country's largest Burmese-American communities.