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President rejects Suu Kyi appeal to change oath

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2012-04-23

Burma's president on Monday ruled out changing the parliamentary oath, under which parliamentarians swear to safeguard the constitution. Democracy leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi has threatened a parliamentary boycott over its wording.

AFP - Myanmar's president said Monday he has no plans to change the loyalty oath that has provoked a threatened parliamentary boycott by democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Kyodo reported.

Thein Sein told reporters in Tokyo he would like to "welcome" the Nobel Peace prize winner to parliament, but that it was up to her whether or not she took the seat she won earlier this month.

The president, who is on a five day visit to Japan that ends Tuesday also affirmed that the process of democratisation in the country would not be reversed.

"There won't be any U-turn," Thein Sein said. "We would like to cooperate (with Aung San Suu Kyi) by heading in the same direction, in the interest of the people," the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

Thein Sein also left open the door for Suu Kyi to enter government, but said she had to decide where her priorities lay.

Noting that the constitution does not allow lawmakers to become members of the cabinet, he said: "Suu Kyi has to make her own decision."

"Suu Kyi should work for the people, rather than her own party," Jiji press cited him as saying.

Thein Sein's comments, on a visit to Japan that has seen Tokyo promise to forgive $3.7 billion of debt and restart aid programmes, are his first since Suu Kyi's party threatened to boycott Monday's opening parliamentary session.

The Nobel laureate, who spent much of the past two decades locked up by the former junta, had been set to make her debut in parliament on Monday after her party's decisive win in by-elections earlier this month.

But the party's newly elected members are refusing to take the swearing-in oath that requires them to uphold the constitution, which was drawn up by the country's former military rulers, a party spokesman said Friday.

It is the first sign of serious discord between Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) and the reformist regime since April 1 by-elections that gave the former political prisoner her first-ever seat in parliament.

The authorities have rejected the NLD's appeal to change the wording of the swearing-in oath from "safeguard" to "respect" the constitution.

Date created : 2012-04-23

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