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Aung San Suu Kyi delays entry to Burma parliament over Constitution dispute


Burma (Myanmar) opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi listens as UNESCO officials speak during a press conference at her residence February 10, 2012 in Yangon, Burma. Suu Kyi is continuing a very public campaign ahead of April 1 by-elections. Her decision to stand for a seat in parliament is the latest sign of dramatic political changes taking place in the country.


Paula Bronstein

Aung San Suu Kyi has led new National League for Democracy lawmakers in delaying their first entry into the Burmese parliament owing to a dispute on the wording of the oath they must take.

They say they want the oath changed to say lawmakers will "respect" rather than "safeguard" the Constitution, a document that was drafted by the former military government, BBC reported.

Ohn Kyaing, a spokesman for the party, said Sunday that the document — which assigns 25 percent of parliamentary seats to unelected members of the military establishment — was "not a democratic constitution."

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers have formally agreed to suspend most sanctions against Burma, but only for a year, in order to recognize a process of democratic reform that is now under way after a half century of military rule.

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While the NLD campaigned on pledges to amend the country’s Constitution, party spokesperson Nyan Win and Suu Kyi have both insisted they do not intend to boycott the parliamentary session.

They believe the objection to the wording of the oath is an issue they can solve quickly.

However, CNN saw the tension over the oath as the first sign of contention between the opposition and the reformist government of President Thein Sein since the by-elections that that swept the Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi and 42 of her party colleagues into the parliament.

Tin Oo said Thein Sein had agreed before the elections to amend the oath.

However, the president — traveling in Japan over the weekend, said: "Whether Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi enters parliament or not is her decision. She has to decide it. The parliament is all in favor of her entrance and very welcoming of her."

Meanwhile, VOA cited Thein Nyunt, a former NLD member, political prisoner, and founder of the New National Democracy Party, has been a member of parliament since he was elected in 2010, as saying he was saddened at the NLD's actions.

He worried that the NLD decision could harm voter confidence, and said some young leaders had very good prospects to do good work for the country, but did not appear to be happening.

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