Skip to main content

Suu Kyi and others unlikely to attend Myanmar parliament next week

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 20, 2012 -- Updated 1114 GMT (1914 HKT)
Aung San Suu Kyi's party has asked that the wording of an oath that lawmakers have to take be altered.
Aung San Suu Kyi's party has asked that the wording of an oath that lawmakers have to take be altered.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Suu Kyi's party has requested that the wording of lawmakers' oath be altered
  • The authorities have not responded to the demand directly
  • Suu Kyi and others probably won't attend parliament next week, a party official says
  • The party won dozens of seats in by-elections earlier this month

(CNN) -- The Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party are unlikely to attend the first session of parliament since their election amid a dispute over the wording of the oath that lawmakers have to take, a party spokesman said Friday.

Suu Kyi and 42 other candidates from her party, the National League for Democracy, won seats in by-elections on April 1, a result welcomed by countries like the United States and Britain as a sign of progress toward democracy in Myanmar after decades of repressive military rule.

Following the elections, Suu Kyi and other newly elected opposition members were invited to attend the session of parliament next week in the capital of Naypidaw.

But they have requested that the wording of an oath that lawmakers have to take be changed. The NLD asked the authorities to adjust the wording of the oath to say that parliamentarians will "abide by the law" rather than "protect the constitution."

British PM's historic visit to Myanmar
Suu Kyi victory in Myanmar celebrated
Landmark victory for Aung San Suu Kyi

In a letter to the NLD, the government didn't respond directly to the request, it said only that the parliament session next week would be a continuing session, so there would be no oath taking ceremony, said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the NLD.

That response failed to satisfy opposition officials and there is now a 90% chance that Suu Kyi and the other newly elected NLD members will not go to parliament on Monday, Nyan Win said.

The tension over the oath is the first sign of contention between the opposition and the reformist government of President Thein Sein. The situation is complicated by Thein Sein's being out of the country at the moment: he is visiting Japan until early next week.

Myanmar's authoritarian military rulers have begun loosening their grip on power after decades in which dissent was stifled and freedoms severely limited.

In the past 12 months, the government has pardoned hundreds of political prisoners, secured a cease-fire with Karen rebels and agreed to negotiate with other ethnic rebel groups.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described this month's by-elections as "an important step in Burma's democratic transformation."

Western governments have applauded the elections and the other recent reforms by the government of President Thein Sein. The U.S. and Australian governments eased some sanctions on Myanmar this week.

Clinton visited Myanmar in December, a historic trip marking the first time a secretary of state had been to the country in more than 50 years.

While control of parliament will not change despite the opposition's strong performance in the by-elections, the result nonetheless gives the National League for Democracy a notable presence.

Myanmar's legislature has 664 seats, more than 80% of which are still held by lawmakers aligned with the military-backed ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Suu Kyi led her party to a landslide victory the previous time Myanmar held multiparty elections, in 1990. But the junta ignored the results and kept her under house arrest.

Released in November 2010, Suu Kyi was allowed to crisscross the country to rally support for her party in the elections.

This week, it was announced that she would make her first overseas trip since her detention.

Suu Kyi will travel to Norway in June to deliver the speech she was unable to give when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT