Western nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to a partial lifting of sanctions against Myanmar (formerly Burma) following a relatively peaceful and credible elections held last April1.
The US announced it will deploy diplomatic personnel including an Ambassador to hasten the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries. It will also allow officials to visit the US on official missions.
US State Secretary Hillary Clinton said the US will start easing restrictions on investments as she hailed Myanmar President Thein Sein for his "leadership and courage" in instituting political and economic reforms in Myanmar
“The United States will stand with the reformers and the democrats both inside the government and in the larger civil society as they work together for that more hopeful future that is the right of every single person,” Clinton told reporters.
While the US is prepared to help in the liberalization process, Myanmar is likely to remain under the watchful eye of the US Congress particularly on the export ban on key products like jade.
“Sanctions and prohibitions will stay in place on individuals and institutions that remain on the wrong side of these historic reform efforts,” Clinton said.
Meanwhile some EU member countries have thus far adapted a cautious stance on the lifting of sanctions especially on arms ban.
A member of National League for Democracy (NLD) and veteran Journalist Win Tin said a fact-finding mission is being made by EU members on the current situation in the country.
“Since the US has changed its policy towards Burma, it seems that some EU countries want to act in the same way,” Win Tin said. “That’s why they came and find out NLD’s view on sanctions against the regime.”
As the EU remains cautious in its appreciation of the on-going democratic transition in Myanmar, members of the ASEAN, in a summit held in Cambodia early this week, have called on the full membership for the immediate lifting of sanctions, citing the progress made under President Thein Sein including the release of political prisoners, relaxation of censorship in media and the relatively peaceful and credible by-elections.
In the by-elections conducted earlier this week, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to the parliament along with more than forty other opposition members.
Suu Kyi swept her NLD party to victory in an election held two decades ago but the military regime did not allow her to take her post as the nation's Prime Minister. Instead, she was put on house arrest for most of the past 20 years since winning the election by landslide.