Myanmar`s president calls for easing tensions

Last Updated: Monday, August 22, 2011 - 22:25

Naypyitaw: Myanmar`s new president
told Parliament on Monday that his government is trying to ease
tensions with opposition parties and seek better relations
with the country`s numerous ethnic groups.

In his first speech to Parliament, President Thein Sein
did not mention that he had met on Friday with pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from seven years of
house arrest in November. Suu Kyi told reporters that she was
"happy and satisfied" with the talks.

Thein Sein, who served as prime minister under the
previous military junta, is considered a moderate compared to
previous leaders. He took power in March following elections
in November that critics said were designed to create a
nominally civilian government controlled by the military.

Suu Kyi`s National League for Democracy party boycotted
the elections, saying they were undemocratic.

Thein Sein said his government is trying to "ease the
tension" with political groups who "still do not accept the
country`s constitution."

That charter, which gives the military a continued
prominent role in government, was approved in a 2008
referendum and came into effect in January this year.

Myanmar came under military rule in 1962 and political
dissent was brutally suppressed. Suu Kyi`s party swept the
last elections in 1990 but was barred from taking power.

Thein Sein also said his government is willing to hold
peace talks with armed ethnic groups, and that development of
the border areas where they live depends on stability.

Critics have accused Thein Sein of creating a facade of
liberalisation to prompt Western nations to lift sanctions
imposed over the country`s political and human rights record.

He also told Parliament his government has officially
informed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that
Myanmar is ready to take its chairmanship in 2014.

In 2006, Myanmar was pressured to give up its turn in
ASEAN`s rotating chairmanship due to fears of a Western
boycott of all of the group`s meetings.


First Published: Monday, August 22, 2011 - 22:25

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