YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's Parliament on Monday denounced the U.S. blacklisting of a ruling party lawmaker and said the decision could adversely affect bilateral relations.
The announcement, two days before President Barack Obama visits the country for a regional summit, said the U.S. blacklisting of Aung Thaung tarnishes the dignity of lawmakers in Myanmar and parliamentary efforts to bring peace, reconciliation and rule of law in the country.
But an ethnic party lawmaker said the blacklisting would not affect Parliament.
The United States "targeted Aung Thaung as an individual and not as a lawmaker, so the Parliament is not directly concerned," said lower house lawmaker Ba Shein from an ethnic Rakhine party. "However, since Aung Thaung is a senior member of the government party, his party members proposed the condemnation and the parliament dominated by government party adopted the proposal."
Aung Thaung, industry minister under the former ruling junta and a leader of a pro-military organization blamed for mob attacks, told reporters recently that the blacklisting would not affect him and he has no political ambition. His family has extensive business interests in Myanmar.
The U.S. has rolled back most sanctions against Myanmar but restrictions remain against some individuals and companies, which are prohibited from holding assets in the U.S. and doing business with Americans.
The Treasury Department in blacklisting him last month said he was intentionally undermining the political and economic transition in Myanmar and perpetuating violence, oppression, and corruption.
Aung Thaung was a leader in a pro-junta organization accused of conducting a 2003 attack on a convoy carrying opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi that killed a number of her supporters. He later served in senior leadership positions in the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Recent mob violence by Buddhist extremists against minority Muslims has stirred concern similar forces could be behind sectarian clashes that Western officials say could threaten Myanmar's transition to democracy. Aung Thaung has denied any involvement.