The Irrawaddy

NLD MPs Important for Burma: US, UK and Canada

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, and UK Foreign Minister William Hague have praised the NLD’s entry into mainstream Burmese politics. (Photo: US State Dept)

WASHINGTON D.C.—Congratulating Aung San Suu Kyi and her party colleagues on becoming Members of Parliament, the foreign ministers of the United States, Britain and Canada unanimously termed the event as an important moment for Burma’s future.

“Today, the pro-democracy leader and several other members of the National League for Democracy [NLD] have taken their newly won seats in Burma’s Parliament. For the first time in the country’s history, Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party will have a role and voice in government,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Clinton sent her congratulations to the newly elected opposition MPs and praised the hundreds of thousands of NLD voters for their courage and commitment to achieving a more representative administration. She added that Burmese President Thein Sein and his government have also taken important strides toward democracy and national reconciliation.

“This is an important moment for Burma’s future,” she said. “A genuine transition toward multi-party democracy leading to general elections in 2015 will help build a more prosperous society.

“I encourage all political parties, civil society representatives and ethnic minority leaders to work together to address challenges and seize new opportunities for a more democratic, free, peaceful and prosperous future,” she added.

Echoing Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague termed the event as “truly historic” and another positive outcome of the reform program embarked upon by Thein Sein a year ago. “The Prime Minister and myself witnessed the reforms first hand during our recent visits to Burma,” he said.

“Today’s events are a further step towards a fully representative democracy in Burma. I look forward to the full participation of all elected members, and a spirit of inclusive and constructive engagement by all parties on the path of reform.

“A number of concerns remain, in particular the need to address the abuse of human rights, a significant number of political prisoners and the continuing conflict in Kachin State. I hope these important issues will soon be resolved,” added Hague on Wednesday.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird agreed that Suu Kyi’s entrance to mainstream politics marks another important milestone in what has been a historic year for the people of Burma.

“I congratulate Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues in the National League for Democracy on their historic entry into Parliament today and wish them well as they continue to work for democratic change,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“Aung San Suu Kyi has fought tirelessly for more than two decades in defense of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for the people of Burma. As of today, she continues her pursuit of a better country from within Parliament.

“These times of change present an opportunity for the people, elected representatives and government to embrace democratic cooperation,” said Baird, adding that Canada stands ready to support those who are working to build a more democratic and peaceful society in Burma.