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Updated: April 22, 2012 15:31 IST

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to boycott Parliament opening over oath dispute

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Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo
AP
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo

Myanmar democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi and elected members of her party on Sunday announced they will postpone attending parliament until changes are made to the swearing-in oath to the country’s pro-military constitution.

“It is 100 per cent certain they will not attend on Monday, but we are not sure about the next days,” National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman Nyan Win said.

NLD leader Suu Kyi and 36 other members of Myanmar’s main opposition party who won seats in the April 1 by-elections were initially scheduled to be sworn in to Parliament in the capital Naypyitaw, 350 kilometres north of Yangon, on Monday.

But Ms. Suu Kyi and other NLD members have objected to the oath, which obliges them to “safeguard” the constitution promulgated in 2010, under the junta. They have asked that the oath’s wording be changed to “respect” the constitution.

The NLD has directly petitioned Myanmar’s reform-minded President Thein Sein to allow them to alter their oath. Thein Sein, currently in Japan, had not answered as of Sunday.

Mr. Nyan Win brushed off concerns that the NLD’s oath-taking objection might endanger their parliamentary posts.

“Daw (Madam) Aung San Suu Kyi is not taking a big risk,” Nyan Win said, pointing out that Thein Sein had earlier this year allowed the NLD to change the wording to “safequard” the constitution to “respect” it when they registered the party to contest the April 1 by-election, in which the NLD won 43 out of 45 contested seats. “We are just sticking to our principles,” Mr. Nyan Win said.

Ms. Suu Kyi, 66, promised during her by-election campaign to push for amendments to the constitution, including and article that allows the military to appoint 25 per cent of the members in the three houses of parliament - lower, upper and regional.

Myanmar was ruled by military regimes between 1962 to 2010, and is currently under a pro-military government that won the November 7, 2010, election, which the NLD boycotted.

The 2010 charter cements military control over Myanmar’s future.

Monday, when parliament will reconvene, is significant in that it coincides with a meeting in Brussels to decide whether the European Union will renew its economic sanctions on Myanmar.

The EU sanctions are expected to be partly lifted in light of the significant reforms that Thein Sein has pushed through since coming to power, including allowing Suu Kyi and the NLD to re-enter mainstream politics.

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