Suu Kyi says Myanmar's reforms have stalled

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2014 8:13 AM
Suu Kyi says Myanmar's reforms have stalled

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has a message for President Barack Obama and other world leaders as they head to Myanmar: The international community's faith in its military-dominated government came too early and too fast, and democratic reforms stalled long ago.

"We do think there have been times when the United States government has been overly optimistic about the reform process," Suu Kyi told a tightly packed news conference held at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party Wednesday.

"What significant reforms have been taken within the last 24 months?" she asked. "This is something the United States thinks about very seriously as well."

The nation's transition from a half-century of brutal military rule to a nominally civilian government in 2011 was marked by early, fast-moving successes. The release of Suu Kyi and hundreds of other political prisoners was a catalyst for the West to end years of diplomatic isolation and to roll back sanctions.

But three years after President Thein Sein took office, the military has refused to loosen its grip on parliament or make amendments to the junta-era constitution, which bars the Nobel laureate from seeking the presidency in 2015. Ceasefire negotiations with ethnic rebels appear to have stalled and violence continues against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine.

The U.S. president and other world leaders head to Myanmar next week for regional summits. Obama, who has repeatedly pointed to the budding democracy as a foreign policy bright spot, called President Thein Sein last week to express concerns about recent backslides.

Among other things, Obama stressed the need to address systematic discrimination and persecution against the country's 1.3 million Rohingya, 140,000 of whom have spent the last two years living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded camps.