Dispute keeps Suu Kyi's party out of parliament

 

Rangoon

Burma's parliament is due to reopen today – almost certainly without the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the 42 other members of her party who secured seats in the recent by-elections.

A senior member of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) confirmed last night that efforts had failed to resolve a dispute over what oath the newly-elected members of the assembly should take.

U Win Tin, a former political prisoner and a member of the party’s executive committee, told The Independent: “The Lady cannot attend. We have some problems with the oath. I don’t think that we can participate in the opening of the parliament.”

The NLD objects to the current oath that requires MPs to vow to “defend” or “safeguard” the constitution and wants the words changed to “respect” or “observe”.  Mr Win Tin said one of the aims of the NLD once its members take up their seats is to try and amend the constitution – something that will require a 75 per cent majority – so it was inappropriate to swear an oath vowing to “defend” it. “We want to say we will observe the constitution. That should be enough,” he added.

One NLD member involved in the negotiations with the authorities, Nay Chi Win, added: “It’s absolutely impossible for us to go into parliament and swear by this wording, because our main objective entering these elections has been to eventually have the constitution changed.”

U Win Htein, a close colleague of Ms Suu Kyi who won the seat of Meiktila, said the authorities had “played games” before.  “We are having to negotiate with are the same generals who have ruled this country with no parliament at all,” he said.

The dispute over the oath is the first discord sounded amid the euphoria that erupted earlier this month when Ms Suu Kyi and her party recorded a landslide victory in the by-elections. A number of commentators have suggested this is not a battle the party needs to fight and that it is more important the MPs take up their seats.

The NLD says there is a precedent for its call to change the oath; in October last year it succeeded in changing a similar clause in the Political Parties’ Registration Law that paved the way for the party to participate in this year’s by-elections. “They seemed to be able to do that easily enough, but then they needed our co-operation,” said Nay Chi Win.

Perhaps aware of the international attention to this week’s session of the parliament and the feelings of many NLD supporters both in and out of the country, senior NLD figures have chosen to term their action as a postponement of taking the oath rather than a boycott and suggest that a deal could yet be struck to allow Ms Suu Kyi to participate later in the week.

Asked about the possible disappointment of supporters who waited so long to see the Nobel Laureate and her colleagues take their seats in the parliament, Mr Win Tin said: “Sometimes you have to observe your principles.’

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there