Monday, September 24, 2012

The President and The Lady

Monday, 24 September 2012 13:05 Myat Thu Pan   

(C0mmentary) – September should be called “Reconciliation Month” in Burma.

President Thein Sein sent Minister Aung Min to attend Suu Kyi's US congressional award ceremony in the US last week.  And government TV in Burma actually aired Suu Kyi's US Congressional Award ceremony in Washinton, D.C., a major sign of reconciliation.

urmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and reformist President Thein Sein Photo: AFP

Suu Kyi told the Institute for Peace in Washington DC that she is keen to work for negotiated compromises with the government while she also encourages help from the US and other countries.

This is all very welcome because President Thein Sein, the chief architect who can bring about changes in Burma, needs Suu Kyi as a partner to collaborate with to achieve full democracy in the country at the fastest pace possible.

Suu Kyi's comments signal a willingness to negotiate and bargain with the president and Parliament and best of all she is supporting the removal of sanctions and help from the US and other countries. The job of dismantling a dictatorship that was in power for half a century and rebuilding to a fully democratic nation will need all the help it can get from all quarters in the world. Suu Kyi is a magnet for good will toward Burma.

One hopes President Obama will send a special adviser to Burma to help in the transitional process, perhaps someone from academia who has extensive experience in helping emerging democracies.  The process involves dismantling existing structures while creating new laws and institutions in a way that must satisfy all stakeholders in real terms – a difficult and delicate process.

From now until 2015 is a crucial period for Thein Sein and Suu Kyi to show they can work together. This could be the best chance to craft a planned path to democracy with the blessing of the Burmese military and the democratic forces for the benefit of all factions.

Usually, transitions from authoritarian rule are accompanied by conflicts and crises. Burma has a good chance, with Suu Kyi and Thein Sein in harmony and working together, to craft a workable plan that can govern effectively in this transition stage and beyond.

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