Suu Kyi′s party agrees to take Myanmar oath of office | News | DW | 30.04.2012
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Suu Kyi's party agrees to take Myanmar oath of office

The dispute over the parliamentary loyalty pledge in Myanmar has been resolved. The opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to take the oath and begin work in parliament.

A hang-up regarding the oath of office required of parliamentarians before they can begin work in Myanmar that threatened to stall the country's ongoing democratic reforms was resolved Monday, when the party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi dropped their dispute over the phrasing of the pledge.

"We will go as soon as possible to attend the parliament," Suu Kyi told reporters after a meeting of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Monday.

Suu Kyi and the NLD had objected to the part of the oath that required them to "safeguard" a constitution which had been written by the military junta that ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, for decades. The party had refused to take their seats until the oath was changed. They were calling for the phrasing to be changed to "respect" the constitution.

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Burmese opposition to enter parliament

"Some people might ask, given that we didn't accept the wording of 'safeguard' in the beginning, why we accept now," Suu Kyi said. "The reason we accept it, firstly is the desire of the people. Our voters voted for us because they want to see us in parliament."

She insisted, however, that the NLD was not giving up, saying "politics is an issue of give and take."

Suu Kyi said she would take her seat in parliament on Wednesday, just over a week after the session began.

UN pledges census help

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon became the first foreign diplomat to address Myanmar's new parliament on Monday, pledging support for the democratic reforms that have been instituted in the country in the past year.

"I welcome the action taken so far by the international community, but more needs to be done," Ban said in his speech in the country's parliament following talks with reformist President Thein Sein. "Today, I urge the international community to go even further in lifting, suspending or easing trade restrictions and other sanctions."

The European Union recently suspended some of its mostly economic sanctions against Myanmar. The United States, however, has left some of its more stringent restrictions in place.

Earlier in the day in meetings with government officials, Ban pledged technical assistance from the UN to help set up Myanmar's first census in 31 years.

Myanmar's government estimates there are 60 million people in the country, but the number could be as high as 65 million.

One of the biggest obstacles to taking a census will be reaching everyone in the country. Some people live in areas torn by battles with government forces and insurgencies tied to ethnic minorities.

"I hope that current and future cease-fires will make this possible," Ban said after signing the census accord with Myanmar Vice President Sai Mauk Kham. "The involvement of minorities and civil society will be crucial."

Ban wraps up his three-day trip to Myanmar on Tuesday, when he is scheduled to meet with Suu Kyi.

mz/ncy (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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