AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
YANGON: Aung San Suu Kyi’s party today announced it will postpone its parliamentary debut, in the first sign of discord between Myanmar’s newly-elected opposition and reformist government.
The democracy icon and other members of her National League for Democracy will not travel to the capital Naypyidaw to enter Parliament tomorrow, spokesmen for the party told AFP, in a dispute over the swearing-in oath.
“We are not boycotting, but we are just waiting for the right time to go,” said Suu Kyi, who won her first-ever seat in Parliament in landmark April 1 by-elections, after a meeting on the issue in Yangon.
The NLD has baulked at the wording of the oath, which requires them to protect a constitution that was drawn up by the country’s former junta.
Authorities have rejected the party’s appeal to change “safeguard” to “respect” the constitution in the oath and a letter to the office of Myanmar’s reformist President Thein Sein on the issue was sent too late for the row to be resolved before the next session of parliament begins tomorrow.
But party spokesman Nyan Win downplayed the issue, saying it was “not a problem”.
“I believe we will overcome it soon,” he told AFP, declining to estimate a timeframe for the wording to be changed.
“The NLD decided to contest the by-elections because we wanted to enter Parliament. We will enter parliament. This issue can be solved through legal means,” he added. The party, which boycotted a controversial 2010 election, agreed to rejoin the political mainstream last year after authorities changed a similar phrase in party registration laws.
Suu Kyi has said one of her priorities was to push for an amendment of the 2008 constitution, under which one quarter of the seats in Parliament are reserved for unelected military officials.
The spat casts a shadow over a rapid improvement in relations between long-isolated Myanmar and the international community since the Nobel Peace Prize winner and her party achieved a decisive win in the April 1 polls.
Observers say the regime needs Suu Kyi in Parliament to bolster the legitimacy of its political system.