Asia-Pacific
Suu Kyi's party set to boycott parliament
National League for Democracy, which campaigned against current constitution, wants parliamentary oath reworded.
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2012 03:51

The party of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, has threatened to boycott the parliament's opening session set to take place on Monday over a dispute regarding the constitutional oath of office.

A senior member of the National League for Democracy's executive committee says that its 43 newly elected MPs will not take up their seats unless the military-led government rewords the vow of allegiance.

NLD wants change in the wording of the swearing-in oath from "safeguarding" the constitution to one that pledges to "respect" it, a demand authorities have reportedly rejected.

It appears to be the first sign of discord between the quasi-civilian Myanmar government and the NLD since April 1 by-elections that gave Suu Kyi her first-ever seat in parliament.

Suu Kyi campaigned in the by-elections on a pledge to amend the country's constitution, which was drawn up by Burma's former military leaders.

The Nobel Laureate, who spent much of the past two decades locked up by the former junta, had been set to make her debut in parliament on Monday after her party's decisive win.

Court petitioned

The NLD has petitioned the constitutional court to change the oath and Suu Kyi has written to Thein Sein, Myanmar's president, asking him to change the wording of the oath.

Larry Jagan, a Southeast Asia expert and journalist, told Al Jazeera that he was optimistic that the boycott would not be a major setback for a wave of democratic reforms in the country.

"My understanding is that the boycott is going ahead, 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," he said.

"The issue with the oath is just deferring them being sworn in."

The potential parliamentary impasse comes as Japan announced it would waive about $3.7bn of Myanmar's debt and resume suspended assistance.

"Myanmar's reforms are progressing with certainty," Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's prime minister, said in Tokyo after meeting Thein Sein.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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