“It’s really her nonviolent position that I find so impressive because perhaps I find it hard to fathom,” he said, adding: “I think she will be remembered for that kind of spiritual insight really, as much as the sort of nitty-gritty of her politics, because she’s a tough customer, too.”
Suu Kyi spent much of her final hours in Oslo focused on that nitty-gritty: the challenge of coaxing Myanmar's military-controlled government toward democracy without alienating militants from warring ethnic groups who demand immediate change.
Her party, the National League for Democracy, won elections in 1990 only to see the result annulled. It boycotted the next elections in 2010, and today has just entered Myanmar’s legislature as a small opposition force.
Ireland’s foreign minister, Gilmore, said he hoped “that the recent positive developments in Burma, including Ms. Suu Kyi’s election, herald the real beginning of a new era of peace, democracy and human rights.”
But Suu Kyi noted that any changes to the country’s laws of government would require more than 75 percent support in the legislature _ and army members represent a blocking 25 percent of votes.
“We will need at least one army representative to vote for amendments. So we have to work with the army. … We don’t want to be in conflict with them, we want to achieve a consensus,” Suu Kyi said in response to a question from The Associated Press.
Earlier, she told the audience of international conflict mediators that building unity among Myanmar’s many warring ethnic groups meant she must remain open to talking with those still committed to violence.
Suu Kyi said she wouldn’t “disinherit or disown” militant groups based along Myanmar’s borders in Thailand and Bangladesh “because we share the same goals” of creating a proper democracy that respects minority rights in Myanmar. Nor, she said, could she promise them that such goals could be achieved without violent rebellion _ but they had both a moral and practical obligation to try.
She said her National League for Democracy could “not let go of our conviction that change could be brought about through peaceful means, and in the long run that would be better.
“The wounds that are opened up by violent conflict take a long time to heal,” she said. “And while the peaceful way might take longer, in the end there are fewer wounds to be healed.”
Associated Press writer David MacDougall in Oslo, Norway, contributed to this report.
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