Burma: Nation Waiting

Interesting news today from Burma/Myanmar:

Burmese President Thein Sein, who has steered a wave of reforms since the end of military rule, will not be seeking a second term at the next election in 2015, the leader of his party said on Thursday.

Which of course raises questions about the country’s First Lady – Aung San Suu Kyi:

The hugely popular Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to run, but only if the constitution is changed to eliminate a clause that bars Burmese from the presidency if their children or spouse are foreign nationals. Her two sons are British, as was her late husband.

The current speaker of parliament and leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Shwe Mann has also expressed an interest in running.  Like Thein Sein, he was a member of the now disbanded military junta — though it can be assumed the feelings in his heart and mind are not similarly disbanded….

Burma Royhinga

Ethnic tensions remain high in parts of the county with military shelling in Kachin state and Buddhist-Muslim communal violence in Arkan state.  Aung San Suu Kyi, herself, came under fire by some human rights activists for a BBC interview last week in which she seemed to shifting blame for the initiation of violence from Buddhists to a more “moderate”  view of “violence is coming from both sides.”

“It’s not ethnic cleansing. … I think it’s due to fear on both sides. And this is what the world needs to understand—that the fear is not just on the side of the Muslims, but on the side of the Buddhists as well,” she said. “Yes, Muslims have been targeted, but also Buddhists have been subjected to violence. There’s fear on both sides, and this is what is leading to all these troubles.”

This could be helpful if it leads to a damping down of tensions and steps towards reconciliation.  It will not be helpful if it constitutes a blind eye and tacit permission for one of the two ‘aggrieved’ parties to muscle up even more.

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