November 14, 2011

THANKS, MRS. BUSH:

Aung San Suu Kyi braced for return to Burmese politics (Joseph Allchin, 11/13/11, guardian.co.uk)

Aung San Suu Kyi appears on the verge of leading her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), in a groundbreaking return to parliamentary politics in Burma a year after she was freed from house arrest.

The potential move comes after the government signed an amendment to the electoral law on Friday that seemed to remove legal and ideological barriers to the party's participation, making the NLD "very likely to register", according to its spokesperson, U Nyan Win.

History ends everywhere.



The Burmese bull in the reform shop (David Pilling, 10/11/11, Financial Times)

"I almost left the country thinking they're moving a little too fast. I never thought I would say that about Myanmar."

Those are the words of Espen Barth Eide, Norway's deputy foreign minister, after a trip this week to Burma, which the Norwegians call by its official name of Myanmar. Mr Barth Eide said that political reformers in the country "have the upper hand" and were moving quickly to try to consolidate their position before there was a counter-offensive from hardliners. "The danger is not that it's not sincere," he said of the push to open up the political process, "but that the counter forces will set in."

The deputy minister, who met senior officials in the new military-backed civilian government, cited among the changes:

- A promise to release political prisoners, the first tranche of which could come imminently
- Easy access to previously banned websites, including those critical of the Burmese government
- A statement by the government's chief censor that the country should consider ending all forms of censorship
- Lively debates in parliament, which were being filmed and shown on television. This must be "mindboggling" for the people, he said.
- A change of tone in the official newspapers, which had dropped slogans bashing western news organisations and "foreign propaganda"
- The words of Aung San Suu Kyi, who told him she thought Thein Sein, the newly "elected" president, was sincere in his push for a political opening.

Other developments include freedom of movement for Ms Suu Kyi, who has even appeared in the local press, and new legislation going through parliament to legalise trades unions. The deputy minister was also encouraged by the symbolism behind the scrapping of a huge $3.6bn dam being developed with China, an extremely popular measure among the Burmese who worry about the dam on environmental grounds.

Posted by at November 14, 2011 6:24 AM
  

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