Monday, September 24, 2012

Burmese gov’t not worried about Suu Kyi upstaging Thein Sein


Monday, 24 September 2012 12:18 Mizzima News   

As Burmese President Thein Sein prepares to speak to the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, his closest aides said they are not worried about him being upstaged by Aung San Suu Kyi. He reportedly will leave Naypyitaw on Monday for the US for a four-day trip.

President Thein Sein speaks at the opening session of the China-Asean Business and Investment Summit and opening session of the Seminar on China-Asean Free Trade Area in Nanning, China, on Friday. Photo: President's office

Minister Aung Min, who attended an award ceremony for Suu Kyi in Washington last week, said they will work together for democracy, just as Nelson Mandela did with South Africa's last apartheid-era leader.

“We don't worry about that,” he told reporters at the United Nations in New York.

Suu Kyi has repeatedly said she and the president are working together and that compromise is something all Burmese politicians must learn in order for the country to go forward toward democracy.

Suu Kyi met briefly on Friday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying she and Thein Sein had to “learn to work together.”

President Thein Sein has many signs to point to as a reformist politician, winning international praise for his rapid reforms including the release of up to 650 political prisoners, land reforms, media liberalization and a new foreign investment law, which is now in the process of being approved.

“The president alone cannot undertake all democratic reforms. I don't think Aung San Suu Kyi alone can accomplish everything either. But the president and Aung San Suu Kyi will have to work together,” Aung Min said, according to wire service reports. “When you look at South Africa, Nelson Mandela alone could not have achieved what South Africa has managed to achieve. It was mainly because Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk, they worked together.”

The Financial Times reported this weekend that on her 17-day US tour, Suu Kyi is being accompanied by Derek Mitchell, the new US ambassador to Burma, a telling sign of the prestige Suu Kyi is given by foreign governments. Even as the leader of a small political party, she is acknowledged as the one person who has the potential of bringing the disparate forces in the country together.

A trusted senior minister said the president is “humble” and does not mind the media attention she receives.  “He is doing his job, she is doing hers,” he said.

Prior to his US visit, Thein Sein spent three-days at a trade fair in China, where officials said he renewed close ties.

“China has for a long time provided a large amount of sincere support and help, and stood at Myanmar's side at the most difficult of times. Myanmar's people will never forget this,” Thein Sein said in statement released late Friday.

Prior to the latest Burmese reforms, China emerged as Burma's biggest ally, investing in infrastructure, hydropower dams and oil-and-gas pipelines to transport energy to China.

The United States, along with the European Union, Japan and other Western countries, have all moved to ease sanctions on Burma, and the US and Burma are rapidly increasing ties.

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