Myanmar and Karen rebels sign ceasefire..Aung San Suu Kyi will run for parliament..ambassador swap with the USA
Myanmar’s government and one of the country’s most prominent ethnic rebel groups, the Karen National Union (KNU), have signed a ceasefire after decades of civil conflict.
A delegation of ministers from the capital Naypyidaw and senior members of the KNU signed the pact in Hpa-an, the capital of eastern Karen state, an AFP news agency reporter witnessed on Thursday.
The military-dominated government, which came to power in March last year after decades of outright army rule, has been trying to reach out to ethnic groups as part of reforms seemingly aimed at ending its isolated status.
Civil war has gripped parts of the country since its independence in 1948, and an end to the conflicts, as well as alleged human rights abuses involving government troops, is a key demand of the international community.
Vast numbers of villagers in Karen state have been forced to flee and tens of thousands of these refugees live in camps across the border in Thailand.
Rights groups say government forces over the years have deliberately targeted civilians, driving them from their homes, destroying villages and forcing them to work for the army.
In December, a ceasefire deal was reached between the local government and the Shan State Army-South, another major ethnic guerrilla group, based in northeastern Shan state.
The pact followed talks near the Thai-Myanmar border with some of the several ethnic groups in a long-running struggle for greater autonomy and rights, including the KNU.
Other promising moves by the new government have included talks with democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been allowed to stand in an April by-election, and the halting of an unpopular Chinese-backed mega dam.
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed that she will run for parliament in the country’s highly anticipated April by-elections.
A spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said Tuesday the Nobel laureate will compete for a seat in her home district outside of Rangoon.
” The General Secretary (Aung San Suu Kyi) initially has planned to stand for election from Kawmhu, Yangon Division. She wanted to represent an area that is somewhat underprivileged, so that’s why she chose Kawmhu constituency. There’s no change with this decision.”
Last week, the government approved the NLD to participate in the April 1 elections, marking its return to mainstream politics after two decades. But it had been unclear whether Aung San Suu Kyi herself would compete for a seat.
The campaign marks the first time the pro-democracy leader has pursued political office. Her party won a landslide victory in 1990, but the ruling military government prevented it from assuming power. Aung San Suu Kyi spent much of her time since then under house arrest, gaining her freedom in 2010 as the junta agreed to parliamentary elections late that year.
The NLD boycotted general elections in November 2010 because of restrictions that prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from running. That vote installed a nominally civilian government that has made a series of reforms, including beginning a dialogue with opposition groups.
Nicholas Farrelly, a Burma analyst at the Australian National University, told VOA the NLD’s decision to compete in the upcoming elections reflects a significant change in Burma’s political climate.
“Since the elections that were held back in November 2010, so much has changed in the politics of Burma, and I think we see that so clearly with this recent effort by Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters to become active players once again in the country’s mainstream political system.”
Farrelly warns that the outcome of the upcoming elections may not significantly impact government policy. But he says it still represents a symbolic step in Burma’s path to democracy.
Clinton announced the move after Burma president Thein Sein issued a pardon and freed 651 detainees, who included some of its most famous political inmates.
In a statement, president Barack Obama described the pardons as “a substantial step forward for democratic reform.”
The US decision follows a landmark visit by Clinton in December as a way of deepening engagement and encouraging more openness there. As the Obama administration looks to step up US involvement across the Asia-Pacific region, it has shifted from Washington’s long-standing policy of isolating Burma’s military government because of its poor human rights record.
“As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin,” Clinton said at the state department.
The highest level US diplomat based in Burma has been a charge d’affaires. Washington downgraded its representation in 1990, when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party swept elections but was barred from power by the military.
Burma’s own diplomatic representation in Washington also currently is a step below the level of ambassador.
Clinton said the US would identify further steps it could take to support reforms, but gave no specifics. Among the other recent moves by the government that she commended was its reaching a ceasefire with the Karen National Union, stopping a long-running ethnic insurgency.
The US currently maintains tough political and economic sanctions against Burma, which heavily restrict trade, investment and foreign aid. Officials have said previously that lifting sanctions would require consolidation of reforms that already have taken place.
this is what it is..a new thorn in chinas side..look on a map and see where myanmar is and china..if they are getting the special teatment now from the USA then its just another country who has cheap labour to be used up by the west..nothing more..they dont care about individual freedoms..its about money and influence..timing..aung san reminds me of the lama of tibet..a figure head used to prickle the overlords..
wait for the undersea fibre cables to get connected..