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British PM visits Myanmar leader

6 years ago94 views



Talks between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Myanmar's long term opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday (April 13) follow by-elections in which Myanmar's long term opposition leader's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won 43 of 45 seats.

This followed on from government reforms which included the freeing of hundreds of political prisoners, peace talks with ethnic minority rebels and the easing of media censorship.

Those developments have triggered calls for the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar.

Subsequently Cameron called for the suspension of all sanctions except the ones on arms transfers. Lifting sanctions could trigger a flood of investment in the resource-rich state.

Cameron said he preferred to suspend rather than lift sanctions on Myanmar to ensure the country remained on the path of reforms.

Myanmar has for years been the target of Western sanctions over human rights abuses, including Suu Kyi's house arrest over several years.

EU sanctions include assets freezes, bans on arms sales and investments or trade related to timber or mining of metals and gemstones and deny Myanmar access to trade privileges.

The European Union is due to review its sanctions on Myanmar by April 23, when embargoes imposed on that country come to an end.

After winning independence - largely due to the efforts of Aung San, Suu Kyi's late father - a 1962 coup heralded 49 years of unbroken, brutal and inept military rule.

That ended a year ago after the transfer to President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government stacked with former generals, a hegemony now at risk after Suu Kyi's National League for

Democracy (NLD) took the majority of seats in the April 1 by-elections.

Suu Kyi said the result of the by-elections could encourage the people of Myanmar to get involved in the politics of their country.

"This is just one election but if the people get the idea that we have to be involved and that is something important for the future. You have come at just the right time," she said.

The polls, which passed off smoothly, were a stark contrast to a 2010 general election widely seen as rigged to favour the army-backed party that won.

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