Asean Backs Burma’s Call to End EU Sanctions

By The Irrawaddy 3 April 2012

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) agreed on Monday to back Burma’s call for the European Union to lift sanctions on the country, a day after a by-election in which Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory.

At the Asean foreign ministers’ meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia praised Burma’s democratic progress and said it will raise the issue of lifting economic sanctions at the upcoming Asean-EU Foreign Ministers Meeting to be held in Brunei on April 27-28, according to the Bangkok Post.

Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told reporters in Phnom Penh that Sunday’s by-election was free, fair and transparent.

After international pressure, the Burmese government permitted foreign and local observers, as well as international and domestic media to monitor the polls and cover news about the election.

Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said on Monday that election observers reported a high turnout of voters, adding the elections “foster Burma’s ongoing democratic reforms.”

Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesian foreign minister, also backed the process, saying the election will further ensure Burma’s recent reforms will be irreversible.

“It is an important step in the history of Myanmar that will take it further in its democratic and reforms processes,” Natalegawa was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying.

Thailand on Monday reiterated its commitment to back Burma in its efforts toward democratic reform and development.

Burma’s Wunna Maung Lwin invited Asean foreign ministers to visit his country in June.

Also in Phnom Penh for the Asean summit, Burmese President Thein Sein told reporters on Tuesday that the by-election was conducted very successfully.

Following its election victory, Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, vowed to tackle three main challenges: a reform of the rule of law; constitutional amendments; and building national reconciliation.