10/31/2014, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Myanmar, government opens talks with Aung San Suu Kyi on peace, reconciliation and reforms

On the orders of the head of state Thein Sein, the talks include the Nobel Peace Laureate, the head of the army, ethnic representatives and those of the main political parties. For the first time the various spirits and powers of the country come together for discussions. However, for critics it's just a façade ahead of the upcoming East Asia Summit.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Burmese President Thein Sein today opened a round table discussion with opposition leaders, including Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, military leaders and leaders of the nation's main ethnic groups.

The meeting, the first ever of its kind, was ordered by the head of state just a few days ahead of the official announcement of the upcoming elections to be held in the latter part of 2015, between the end of October and early November.

On the eve of the summit, US President Barack Obama has had a telephone conversation with both his counterpart Thein Sein, and with opposition leader Suu Kyi, expressing his hope that the vote of 2015 will be "credible" and "inclusive".

Today's meeting in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw focuses on three main pillars: peace, national reconciliation and political reforms, particularly those that threaten to undermine the constitutional elections next year. Attended by the president, two vice-presidents, the two Speakers of Parliament, the head of the military, representatives of ethnic groups and political parties.

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has frequently called for such meetings to revive the process of reforms in the country. According to critics today's summit is just a facade to show participants at the East Asia Summit that the political dialogue "continues".

In 2010, Myanmar held its first general elections in 20 years. However, the NLD boycotted the elections because it believed them fundamentally unfair and anti-democratic. Those elections led to the establishment of a semi-civilian government led by Thein Sein, a former general now considered a reformer. 25% of the seats in Parliament are assigned by law, not by popular vote, to the military - in fact - they have the power of veto over any type of political and institutional reform in the country.

In the 2012 elections, the NLD participated by presenting all its top leaders, including the Nobel Laureate who, on a wave of popular support, won a parliamentary seat. However, despite the great popularity of the "Lady" she is banned from running for the office of President. Two highly controversial constitutional norms have effectively barred her from the race for the most important position in the country.

Other issues that remain unresolved include the plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority considered unlawful by the Burmese government and subject to violence and persecution by the Buddhist majority, especially in the western state of Rakhine where they are concentrated in vast members. At least 100 thousand people have fled in the past two years, since the beginning of Buddhist-Muslim riots of 2012 that have caused the deaths of at least 200 people.

 

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