UN′s Ban praises Suu Kyi for defusing Myanmar political row | News | DW | 01.05.2012
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UN's Ban praises Suu Kyi for defusing Myanmar political row

The UN secretary general has praised Myanmar's opposition leader for defusing a political row, allowing her party to enter parliament. Ban Ki-moon is the latest in a series of senior foreign visitors to Myanmar.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki moon used a meeting with Myanmar's leading opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Tuesday to praise her for defusing a political impasse.

On Monday, Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party backed down in a dispute over an oath of office parliamentarians are required to take. She and the 42 other NLD members who won seats in Myanmar's recent by-elections had refused to take the oath because it requires parliamentarians to "safeguard" the constitution, which was written by the country's military.

"I know that it must have been a very difficult decision," Ban told reporters at a press conference following their meeting. "But a real leader demonstrates flexibility for the greater cause of the people. This is what she has done … and I really admire and respect her decision."

Respect for the voters

NLD officials said Suu Kyi and the other members of the party elected on April 1 would likely take the oath of office on Wednesday.

Standing beside Ban at the press conference in Yangon, Suu Kyi said the decision to climb down on the issue was in part a mark of respect to all who had voted for the party.

"We have always believed in flexibility, in the political process ... that is the only way in which we can achieve our goal without violence," the Nobel Peace laureate said, adding that one of her top priorities after taking her seat in parliament would be to get the 2008 constitution amended.

The two met a day after Ban had become the first foreigner to address Myanmar's parliament. He used his speech to praise the "vision, leadership and courage" of President Thein Sein, who has introduced a series of reforms since taking office just over a year ago.

Ban is just the latest in a series of senior foreign visitors who have travelled to Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, to express their approval of the government's political reform process. Over the past three days alone these have included German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton. Their visits followed a decision by the EU to suspend for a period of one year a wide range of economic sanctions against Myanmar. However an arms embargo remains in place.

pfd/ncy (Reuters, AFP)