x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Suu Kyi's planned parliament debut hits a snag as EU prepares to suspend Myanmar sanctions

The European Union will suspend most sanctions against Myanmar while it assess the country's progress towards democracy, according to two officials.

Aug San Suu Kyi and other newly elected NLD politicians take part in a training course conducted at the party headquarters on matters concerning the constitution, regional development programmes and parliamentary affairs.
Aug San Suu Kyi and other newly elected NLD politicians take part in a training course conducted at the party headquarters on matters concerning the constitution, regional development programmes and parliamentary affairs.

YANGON // The European Union will suspend most sanctions against Myanmar while it assess the country's progress towards democracy, two officials said yesterday.

EU foreign ministers will announce the decision on Monday in Luxembourg, the officials said.

The sanctions will be suspended for a year, with the possibility of a review in six months. They target more than 800 companies and nearly 500 people.

Meanwhile Myanmar's progress towards democracy appeared to hit a slight snag as Aung San Suu Kyi's planned debut in parliament next week could be shelved amid a standoff between her party and the government over one word used in the swearing-in oath for new legislators.

Newly elected MPs from Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party see the oath in its present form as a potential hurdle in plans to make an impact in a legislature influenced by the military, and refuse to sit in the chambers until it is changed.

Top NLD official Nyan Win travelled to the administrative capital Naypyitaw yesterday to try to convince the election officials and legislators to change the vow to "safeguard the constitution" to instead say "respect the constitution", but it appears, without success.

The NLD's demand puts it on a collision course with other lawmakers and the reform-minded former generals in government, who want Ms Suu Kyi in parliament to boost its credibility, but may not give in easily to its demand. The current lower house session is to resume on Monday, with or without the 37 new NLD MPs.

"The chairman of the election tribunal explained to me ... this sort of oath has to be taken by parliamentarians at all parliaments across the world," Nyan Win said after his visit to Naypyitaw.

He said he would convey the message to Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD would likely make an announcement soon about its next step.

Ms Suu Kyi played down the standoff, expecting the government, for the good of democracy, to bow to her party's demands.

"We don't mean we will not attend the parliament, we mean we will attend only after taking the oath," she said. "Changing that wording in the oath is also in conformity with the constitution. I don't expect there will be any difficulty in doing it."

* Associated Press with additional reporting by Reuters