Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in SF

AP News
Posted: Sep 30, 2012 12:48 AM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in SF

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A crowd of 5,000 watched Saturday as Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi received an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco.

Suu Kyi spoke to the crowd in English for several minutes before switching to Burmese, addressing her fellow countrymen in the audience. The San Francisco Bay area is home to the nation's largest Burmese community.

"Our country is on the verge of a new path," she told the crowd. "We are just about to start out, but we are not along the way yet. And because we're just at the beginning, this is a delicate and difficult time."

Suu Kyi's appearance at the university is part of her high-profile visit to the U.S. that has included a private meeting with President Barack Obama and standing ovations at awards ceremonies in Washington and New York, including at the United Nations.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi handed her the framed degree at Saturday's event inside a packed auditorium. Suu Kyi was also given a key to the city by Mayor Ed Lee.

Suu Kyi, 67, has been a key player in Myanmar's political transformation after a half-century of military rule.

Until November of 2010 she had spent about 15 years under house arrest during the former military regime. Now she heads the main opposition group with 43 seats in parliament, which is dominated by allies of the former regime.

Still, her presence in parliament is huge step toward democracy. She has also been named head of a 15-member parliamentary committee tasked with helping to implement rule of law in the country. Her party had boycotted the November 2010 elections but took part in by-elections in April.