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article imageMyanmar's Suu Kyi boycotts Parliament

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By Alessio Fratticcioli     Apr 25, 2012 in World
Yangon - Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 other members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the parliament's opening session on Monday over a dispute regarding the constitutional oath of office.
According to CNN, Suu Kyi and her NLD party asked the authorities to modify the wording of the oath to say that parliamentarians will "abide by the law" rather than "protect the constitution."
The 2008 Constitution is seen as undemocratic and illegitimate by the NLD, as it was framed by the military junta which ruled the country from 1962 to 2010.
Anyway, this time Suu Kyi may have picked up "the wrong battle," wrote exiled Burmese journalist and Berkeley PhD candidate Min Zin on Foreign Policy.
"[Suu Kyi] has put herself in an unnecessary dilemma," Min Zin wrote. "First of all, the point at hand is largely symbolic... Vowing to "uphold and abide" the constitution does not mean that the opposition can't try to amend it later."
"By participating in the election Aung San Suu Kyi chose to play by the regime's rules; now she needs to pick her battles rather than wasting valuable energy in a fight over symbolism."
Larry Jagan, a Southeast Asia expert, was rather more optimistic.
"My understanding is that the boycott is going ahead," Jagan told Al Jazeera, "but I don’t think it means the NLD does not want to work with the government on issues that affect people on the ground, like poverty, development and the ceasefire agreements."
"The issue with the oath is just deferring them being sworn in," he said.
The spat comes as the European Union suspended the economic sanctions against the impoverished Southeast Asian nation for one year. It was a reward for Myanmar "remarkable" reforms undertaken since the nominally civilian government replaced direct army rule in 2011, reported Al Jazeera.
The parliamentary impasse comes also as Japan announced it would waive about $3.7bn of Myanmar's debt and resume suspended assistance.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was long considered a pariah state due to its lack of democracy and appalling human rights record.
Although the conflicts between the Burmese army and a number of ethnic guerrilla armies is still going on, the international community is now intentioned to improve the relations with Myanmar.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton is quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that the EU "will now enter into an active collaboration with Myanmar, to assist the reform process and to contribute to economic, political and social development."
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