Suu Kyi backs down over threat to snub parliament


Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, yesterday agreed to end her party's boycott of parliament, setting aside her first major dispute with the government since winning by-elections.

Ms Suu Kyi and 42 other National League for Democracy (NLD) MPs will make their historic debut in the assembly tomorrow after backing down over the wording of an oath for new members of parliament.

The 66-year-old agreed to swear to protect a constitution drafted under military control that she says is undemocratic and needs to be amended. "In politics it is essential to give and take," the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. "As a gesture of respect to the desires of the people and in consideration of the requests made by lawmakers from democratic parties and independent lawmakers, we have decided to attend the parliament ... We will go there as soon as possible and take the oath."

Ms Suu Kyi's change of heart came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was addressing parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw. She is due to meet Mr Ban in Yangon today.

The pro-democracy NLD party boycotted general elections in 2010, when Ms Suu Kyi was under house arrest, saying the poll was rigged in favour of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The NLD won all but one of the 44 seats it contested in the by-elections after a campaign in which Ms Suu Kyi, who won one of the seats, made the amendment of the 2008 constitution drawn up under military supervision, a central theme.