Suu Kyi to meet with U.N. chief after ending Myanmar oath deadlock

Aung San Suu Kyi's party has dropped an effort to change wording of an oath that lawmakers have to take.

Story highlights

  • Aung San Suu Kyi and her party object to wording of the swearing-in oath in parliament
  • They had been delaying their debuts in the legislature
  • Suu Kyi now says she will go to parliament and take the oath
  • She is scheduled to meet with Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to meet Tuesday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a day after she said she would take the oath of office for the country's parliament after initially resisting it.

The impasse over the oath had been preventing her and other newly elected members of her party from taking their seats in the legislature.

"I will go to the parliament because there is a demand of people who voted for me," Suu Kyi said after meeting with party members in Yangon on Monday.

She and 42 other members of her party, the National League for Democracy, were elected in by-elections earlier this month. They had been delaying their debuts in parliament because they objected to the wording of the oath they would have to take.

The NLD had asked the authorities to amend the oath to say that members will "abide by" the constitution rather than "protect" it. Party members want to revise the constitution, which they view as undemocratic.

But the government of President Thein Sein, a former military official, didn't appear to show any sign of moving to accommodate the request.

Press freedom in Myanmar
Press freedom in Myanmar


    Press freedom in Myanmar


Press freedom in Myanmar 02:40
Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the press
Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the press


    Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the press


Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the press 01:16

Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest, said Monday that she would "take an oath for the country and for the people." She added that she had been urged to enter parliament by some parliament members and representatives of Myanmar's ethnic minority groups.

Dispute over swearing-in oath in Myanmar
Aung San Suu Kyi's party has asked that the the wording of an oath that lawmakers have to take be altered.


    Dispute over swearing-in oath in Myanmar


Dispute over swearing-in oath in Myanmar 01:39

Asked whether she was concerned she may appear weak by backing down over the oath, Suu Kyi said, "I don't care."

Nyan Win, a spokesman for the NLD, said Suu Kyi will attend parliament in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Wednesday for "just one day."

The breakthrough came while the U.N. chief Ban was in Myanmar. He met with top officials, including Thein Sein, on Monday and offered U.N. support. He is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Suu-Kyi.

The international organization is available to provide technical assistance for Myanmar's first census in 2014 and lend its electoral expertise in the run-up to the 2015 elections, the United Nations said.

Ban is the latest in a string of high-profile officials to visit the country as it emerges from decades of international isolation.

Myanmar's authoritarian military rulers are loosening their grip on power after decades of stifling dissent and limiting freedoms.

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.

The success of Suu Kyi and her party at the by-elections this month was welcomed by the United States and European Union as a sign of progress toward democracy.

The dispute over the wording of the oath appeared to create an early stumbling block in that process.

But Suu Kyi said last week that she did not want the issue to become "political," insisting that it was a "technical" problem.

Her arrival in parliament on Wednesday will illustrate the pace at which Myanmar is changing: She was released from house arrest less than a year and a half ago.

Control of parliament will not change despite the opposition's strong performance, but the entry of the NLD members will nonetheless give the party 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 group, the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Many Western governments have taken steps to ease sanctions on Myanmar, also known as Burma, in response to its political reforms. But international officials have also cautioned that the country still has a long way to go.

Speaking last week ahead of his trip, the United Nations' Ban said that Myanmar's "fresh start is still fragile."

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