WASHINGTON — Senior figures from governments around the world have heaped praise on Burma for Sunday’s by-elections which saw at least 40 opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates elected to Parliament.
The Obama administration described the weekend’s poll as an important step in the democratic transition of Burma, noting that it would “match every Burmese action”—indicating that sanctions against the military-dominated Southeast Asian nation may soon be quashed.
“This election is an important step in Burma’s democratic transformation, and we hope it is an indication that the government of Burma intends to continue along the path of greater openness, transparency and reform,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“We congratulate the people of Burma on their participation in the electoral process, and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy on their strong showing in the polls,” he added.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed satisfaction over the weekend elections. “While the results have not yet been announced, the United States congratulates the people who participated, many for the first time, in the campaign and election process,” she said while in Turkey on Monday.
At her daily news conference, the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said the US would match every Burmese action. “As we have said from the beginning, we are going to match action with action, so we are in the process of completely evaluating the results of the elections,” she said.
“I don’t have anything to announce here in terms of our next steps, in terms of actions or action. We will be looking at that,” she added.
Top Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, a former Speaker of US House of Representatives, said the election of Aung San Suu Kyi to Burma’s Parliament is a step forward on the path towards a brighter future for the Burmese people.
“While there are credible reports that these parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair, they are notable due to the participation of the popular pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party,” she said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague termed the elections and results as “historic” for Burma. “We congratulate the people of Burma, and Aung San Suu Kyi for her personal victory which means so much to her people and people around the world, including in Britain,” he said.
Welcoming these remarkable results and the progress they represent, Hague also congratulated Burmese President Thein Sein and encouraged him to continue to pursue the path to reform he has set out.
“It will be important for his government to continue to work with Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD and other democratic forces, to bring about lasting and irreversible reform. The UK, as the largest bilateral donor of aid to Burma, stands ready to support this process,” Hague said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the courage and vision of Thein Sein which has made such progress possible.
Noting that a UN team has been on the ground since last week and was able to witness voting in a number of constituencies, he said that despite some complaints of irregularities, key stakeholders in Burma, including political parties, have stressed to his team their strong belief that these by-elections are a boost for the ongoing reforms and a very important step towards a more peaceful and democratic future in the country.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird extended his personal congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi for her party’s principled campaign and strong showing in the by-elections. “This honorary Canadian citizen continues to make Canadians and all freedom-loving people around the world extremely proud of her role in writing a new chapter in Burma’s history,” he said.
Baird added that Canada is ready and willing to play a leading role in helping to build a better future for Burma, one that will provide greater respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for all.
Canada’s opposition leader Bob Rae also praised the by-elections, and deemed the participation of Suu Kyi’s NLD and other opposition parties as an important step on the road to democracy and reconciliation in Burma.
“Suu Kyi’s victory is a very encouraging sign for the freedom of Burma’s people. We hope this is just the first step to a freer, more democratic Burma. We continue to salute Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage and indefatigable spirit,” Rae said.