Senior US lawmaker: Burma Must Reform Before More Sanctions Easing

Burma US sanctions

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican party’s leader. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON — Jade and rubies from Burma will remain banned from the United States unless the Asian nation moves to end a provision in its constitution that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president, a senior U.S. senator said on Thursday.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican party’s leader in the Senate, said there is little appetite in the U.S. Congress to reinstate stiff trade sanctions that were imposed on Burma during its decades of tough military rule.

However, he said in a Senate speech, if the country does not make further reforms – and address human rights concerns – he cannot see an ending of further restrictions, including the ban on jade and ruby imports and sanctions on individuals deemed to be hindering further reforms.

“It is hard to see how those provisions get lifted without there being progress on the constitutional eligibility issue and the closely related issue of the legitimacy of the 2015 elections,” said McConnell, who has taken a long-term interest in Burma and visited two years ago.

Improving relations with Burma has been a priority with the U.S. government, but lately Washington has been concerned that the Asian nation is backing away from its reform agenda. This included releasing political prisoners, releasing Suu Kyi from house arrest and easing restrictions on freedom of the press.

“In light of these democratic reforms—many of which I witnessed firsthand when I visited the country in January 2012—I believe that to no small degree Burma has been a remarkable story among many dark developments in the world today,” McConnell said.

Burma has a by-election late this year and a parliamentary election in 2015. But its constitution bars anyone from running for president who has immediate family members who are foreign nationals. Suu Kyi’s late husband and two sons are British, and many observers believe the provision was written specifically to keep the Nobel prize winner from seeking the office.

McConnell said a parliamentary committee is working on a constitutional reform proposal, and that he is concerned it would not change the provision. He said he the provision would “cast a pall over the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of the international community and members of the Senate.”

3 Responses to Senior US lawmaker: Burma Must Reform Before More Sanctions Easing

  1. US is always one or two steps behind the China and India because of the way the response to the situation. The way the solve the problem is – see if this really shit happen, then only then response to solve the problem. They don’t foresee or predict to prevent the problem proactively. If they had step into Burma since 1988, they won’t left behind China.

  2. I do respect Kentucky , the Republican party’s leader in the Senate, for his support for Freedom and Human Rights to flourish in Burma. But I consider his veiw on ” sanctions” as insult on all Myanmar people, who are trying their best to bring about “real changes” in their own way. Leave us alone Mitch, you have other “agendas” . A Burmese can think, act for the good of his/her people. Let us do it our own way. The common American people are with us, the ordinary Burmese people, who have suffered enough under military dictatorship, for the last 5 decades.. Democracy is us, We the Burmese people will do it. Trust and have confidence in us. Don’t force your “brand of democracy” on us Senator Mitch McConnell. Our social, political and economic history is different from that of The US of A.

  3. If US does not keep go on sanction, fox than shwe,his men and his cronies will be richer and richer first before the ordinary people and they can move their money outside the world poorest country, Burma to oversea easily and readily.

    China can help fox and his cronies richer in Burma but China can not help those fox’s and his cronies’ money to move out their money from Burma to oversea.
    Singapore banks are helping fox and his cronies for moving their money out from Burma.

    Don’t let fox to play the game between China and US as some instigate sino-Bama clash after bama Muslim clash to gain advantages for fox in order to divert attention of abolishing of 2008 nargic constitution.

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