Suu Kyi Scores Obama Byline With 5th ‘Most Influential’ Listing

By The Irrawaddy 22 April 2016

Time magazine on Thursday released its annual list of the world’s “100 Most Influential People,” with National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi taking a spot for the fifth time among its pantheon of the powerful.

Suu Kyi’s profile for Time’s 2016 iteration was written by US President Barack Obama. In his text Obama, who with 11 appearances holds the record for being featured on the list the most times, described his meetings with the NLD leader and what her guidance could mean for Burma’s future.

“Burma still faces huge challenges, and its success will depend on ending long-running conflicts and upholding the human rights of all ethnic groups and religions. But democracy is poised to deliver a future of greater promise and prosperity,” Obama wrote.

The magazine began compiling the annual list in 1999, and Suu Kyi was also among Time’s top 100 in 2013, 2011, 2008 and 2004.

Her NLD won an overwhelming majority in last year’s election, trouncing the then-ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and, since then, pledging to form a “national reconciliation” government to work toward ending decades of ethnic conflicts by uniting the country around the NLD’s governing coalition.

“We human beings are so riddled with imperfection, [but] in spite of the imperfections, democracy still remains a beacon of hope for all of us,” Obama recounted the Lady as saying, heralding her as the sort of leader who can steer the former pariah state after more than a half-century of direct and indirect military rule.

Obama has twice visited Burma during his presidency, both times meeting Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon. Suu Kyi was first invited to the White House, in September 2012.

The Obama administration has tried to claim a degree of credit for political reforms in Burma that helped Suu Kyi assume power. Beginning in 2011, relations between Burma and the United States underwent a thaw after decades of diplomatic standoff. Washington had previously punished the former ruling junta for its poor human rights record with economic sanctions that were lifted in 2012 as reforms by ex-President Thein Sein unfolded.