Burma Parliament Reconvenes Without Suu Kyi

By The Associated Press 5 July 2012

NAYPYIDAW—Burma’s parliament reconvened on Wednesday for what is expected to be an important session, but its best-known member, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was absent because she was busy with other work.

Suu Kyi recently returned from a two-week, high-profile trip to Europe, where she was feted as a heroine of democracy. The Nobel laureate had explained at a news conference on Tuesday that she would not make it to the opening of the legislative session in the capital, Naypyidaw.

“I am taking leave for three days as I have quite a lot of work that I have to finish here in Rangoon before going there,” she said.

She added that her party did have plans for the new session and would actively take part in legislative affairs, and that she would join the session on Monday.

The new session is expected to take up important legislation covering matters including press freedom and foreign investment, both key elements of reformist President Thein Sein’s program for development through democratization.

Since taking office a year ago, Thein Sein has instituted political and economic reforms that are a sharp contrast to the repressive measures of the five decades of military rule that preceded his government.

Members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party operate in opposition, holding only about 7 percent of the seats in parliament.

The party, which declined to contest the 2010 polls because it deemed them unfair, won 43 of the 45 seats at stake in April by-elections following its decision to engage with Thein Sein’s government. Suu Kyi was one of the candidates to win a parliamentary seat.

The members of Suu Kyi’s party missed the opening of the last parliamentary session because of their disagreement with the oath of office. Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, eventually agreed to attend, even though her request to have the oath changed was not met.

The resignation of one of Burma’s two vice presidents was officially announced at Wednesday’s parliamentary session.

The chairman of the Union Parliament, Khin Aung Myint, told lawmakers that Thein Sein had accepted the resignation of Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo for health reasons. The resignation took effect July 1, though he was widely reported to have quit in early May.