Activists say Myanmar elections are cause for west to revise sanctions
Officials and advocates say that Europe and the United States should use the seemingly successful Myanmar elections as a reason to justify a broad rollback of the sanctions that have been levied against the southeast Asian nation for decades.
In the wake of breakthrough elections in Myanmar, also known as Burma, there’s talk of lifting some international sanctions long imposed on the country and its rulers.
“We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era,” said opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, “where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people in the everyday politics of our country.”
Her National League for Democracy won most of the 45 parliamentary seats up for grabs.
The European commission said Monday that Europe could begin lifting sanctions within weeks, while American leaders are being more cautious.
Many political prisoners remain in jail, and the ruling council remains in control of all branches of government.
American Priscilla Clapp, though, would like to see rapid progress toward lifting sanctions against Burma.
Clapp was the chief of the U.S. Mission in Burma from 1999 to 2002. The United States didn't have an ambassador to Burma at that time, a position they've just re-opened.
Clapp's now retired from the diplomatic service, but remains in close touch with many friends in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
“People are ecstatic the elections turned out to be free, because they didn’t know until the last minute,” Clapp said.
She said that freedom will be hugely important to lawmakers in Washington, pondering when to ease sanctions.
“We were waiting to see the results of these elections and how the elections were conducted," she said.
Now, she said, it's time for Congress to take immediate reaction in what would be both a reward to the Myanmar government for holding fair elections and encouragement to keep expanding freedoms.
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