“I encourage all political parties, civil society representatives and ethnic minority leaders to work together to address challenges and seize new opportunities for a more democratic, free, peaceful and prosperous future,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Thein Sein’s government has been widely praised for instituting reforms over the past several months, including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing cease-fires with rebels, easing media censorship and holding the April 1 by-election that allowed Mrs. Suu Kyi’s party to enter parliament.
But more than half a million refugees remain abroad, hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars and fierce fighting continues with ethnic Kachin insurgents in the north.
This week, Washington-based watchdog Freedom House said Myanmar - also known as Burma - is still “not free,” and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the country the seventh most restricted in world.
The legislature itself was installed after a 2010 vote that the NLD boycotted and the international community decried as a sham. Now, as a parliamentary minority, the Suu Kyi-led opposition will have little power to change what it wants to change most - the constitution.
“We have to now work within the parliament as well as outside the parliament as we have been doing” all along, Mrs. Suu Kyi said.
Key ‘test’ in 2015
Maung Zarni, a Myanmar exile who is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, said Mrs. Suu Kyi’s ascent is “neither a game-changer nor a sign that Burma has reached the tipping point of democratic transition.”
“Quite the contrary, it marks the most important victory [yet] for the regime’s strategic leaders,” he said.
Mrs. Suu Kyi’s rise to public office marks a major reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world’s most prominent prisoners of conscience, held under house arrest for much of the last two decades.
When the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was finally released in late 2010, few could have imagined she would make the leap from democracy advocate to elected official in less than 18 months.
Over the next three years, the NLD will have to decide how to navigate the run-up to national elections in 2015.
Maung Zarni said the most crucial test will come at that time.
“It remains an open and serious question whether the military as an institution or the generals and ex-generals will stomach the idea - much less the reality - of a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party in 2015,” he said.View Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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