Suu Kyi’s NLD to Join Parliament on Wednesday

By The Irrawaddy 30 April 2012

Burma’s main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has ended the dispute over the parliamentary admission oath and agrees to take its seats in the national legislature, party chairwomen Aung San Suu Kyi told a press conference at her Rangoon home on Monday morning.

Suu Kyi said NLD members decided to join Parliament on Wednesday in response to their supporters and MPs from ethnic groups who were keen to see the party take up the 43 seats they won in the landmark April 1 by-elections.

“There are two reasons why we decided to join Parliament,” said the 66-year-old. “One is we deeply respect the people’s desire who helped us win a majority at the election. These people want to see us in Parliament.

“Another reason is to show respect to members of ethnic political parties that are already MPs and who have asked us to join Parliament.”

MPs from ethnic political parties as well as independents and members of the National Unity Party all wrote letters in which they offered to cooperate with the NLD to change the Constitution within Parliament, according to Suu Kyi.

“Our party quickly made the decision to join Parliament because we have many matters with which to work together with these ethnic political parties,” said the Nobel Laureate.

She added that there are many undemocratic articles to change within the widely-condemned 2008 Constitution. “This is just a problem regarding the Constitution and is not a political conflict,” said Suu Kyi. “We do not create any political conflicts. Therefore, we agreed to join Parliament because we do not want to have any political tension.”
The NLD wanted to replace the phrase “safeguard” with “respect” the Constitution in the oath sworn by new MPs.

The party campaigned on a platform of amending undemocratic articles within the document—such as the 25 percent of parliamentary seats reserved for military appointees—but face a struggle as any change requires 75 percent of the legislature’s approval.

But Suu Kyi denied that she was backing down over the issue. “Politics is an issue of give and take,” she said. “We are not giving up, we are just yielding to the aspirations of the people.”

Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy that his party’s members will join the Parliament on Wednesday. Most MP-elects will travel to Naypyidaw on Tuesday, but Suu Kyi has said that she will go to the capital early on Wednesday before swearing-in.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a historic speech within the Burmese Parliament on Monday. He called for international trade sanctions against Burma to be further reduced and is due to meet with Suu Kyi on Tuesday.