Burma's New Parliament -- and Aung San Suu Kyi

“For the first time in 22 years, Burma’s ruling generals convened a parliamentary meeting today, casting it as one of the final steps in their ‘roadmap to democracy.’ But the reality falls well short of a multi-party democracy,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President for Global Policy Programs.

“Twenty-five percent of the Parliament’s seats were reserved for the military, a military-backed party controls more than 80 percent of the rest, and it is widely assumed that Senior General Than Shwe will appoint himself to fill the role of president. Taken together, these developments virtually ensure that the military leaders who have been recycled into political life will remain at the helm of government for at least one or two five-year terms. The big question now is whether competing power centers will be able to develop over time both at the national and the state levels. Meanwhile, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi sent an audio message to an audience of business and government leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling for responsible investment in the country. Burma’s fellow ASEAN members recently voiced support for the lifting of sanctions against the country, but Suu Kyi has been mum on this subject, indicating that she is carefully weighing her views. How she comes out on sanctions will carry a great deal of weight in the international community.”

Suzanne, who is based in New York, is Director of the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy toward Burma/Myanmar. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or pr@asiasociety.org.