“Only Time Will Tell in Burma”

Suu Kyi joins parliament

Suu Kyi joins parliament

To follow up on last week’s parliamentary stalemate, Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy party chose to compromise for now, jointly reciting the oath in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, as the ruling party and the army looked on. The NLD had refused to take its seats in the assembly last week because they opposed wording in the oath that obliges legislators to “safeguard” the constitution. The party, which has vowed to amend the document because it enshrines military power, wanted the phrasing changed to “respect.” But it is a new era for Burma as Aung San Suu Kyi took a historic oath yesterday to join the parliamentary system.

Although President Thein Sein’s government has been widely praised for instituting sweeping reforms over the last several months, including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing cease-fires with rebels, easing press censorship and holding the April 1 by-election that allowed Suu Kyi’s party to enter parliament, there is much more to be done.  More than half a million refugees remain abroad, hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars and fierce fighting continues with ethnic Kachin insurgents in the north.

But as Suu Kyi believes, “only time will tell…I have always been cautiously optimistic about developments. In politics, you also have to be cautiously optimistic.”

Suu Kyi’s rise to public office marks a major reversal for not only the country but for a woman who became one of the world’s most prominent prisoners of conscience, held under house arrest for much of the last two decades. So there is much to celebrate about as she and her party debut in parliament this week.

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