Suu Kyi attends first session of Myanmar parliament since taking oath

Aung San Suu Kyi attends the lower house parliament session in Naypyidaw on July 9, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The opposition leader sits through morning session of lower house
  • It's her first appearance since being sworn in two months ago
  • Since then, she has made her first overseas visits in more than 20 years

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi attended her first session of parliament Monday since her historic swearing in as a lawmaker two months ago.

Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy campaigner who spent years under house arrest, sat through the morning session of the legislature's lower house in the capital, Naypyidaw.

The presence in parliament of Suu Kyi and fellow members of her party, the National League for Democracy, is a key step in the political reforms introduced by the government President Thein Sein.

For decades, Myanmar was ruled by a repressive military junta. But in recent years, the generals have relaxed their grip on power, permitting Thein Sein's administration to push through a series of changes, including peace talks with rebel groups and the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

The authorities also allowed Suu Kyi and her party to campaign in April by-elections and didn't intervene when the opposition swept to victory in nearly every seat up it contested.

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The reform drive by Thein Sein's government has been rewarded with the easing of sanctions by Western governments.

Nonetheless, tensions remain in the country's fragile new political climate.

    Suu Kyi and other NLD members delayed their swearing in at parliament because they wanted the wording of the oath of office to be amended. After the Myanmar authorities refused to budge on the issue, the opposition members backed down and took the oath.

    More recently, the election commission last month issued a request to Suu Kyi and other members of her party to stop referring to the country as Burma, the country's official name until 1989.

    The commission said that the use of the word Myanmar by the constitution meant that "no one has the right" to call the country Burma. That's despite the continued widespread use of Burma by people both inside and outside the country.

    Suu Kyi said last week that she could say what she wanted to say since Myanmar was "a democratic country."

    Since her swearing in at parliament two months ago, Suu Kyi has traveled to Thailand and Europe, her first trips abroad in more than two decades.

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