Ireland supports Myanmar’s transition to democracy
2015-11-15 11:50:22 -
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

 

Ireland has reiterated its commitment to supporting Myanmar’s political transition to democracy.

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan made the statement recently following the successful conduct of elections in Myanmar on 8 November.

 

Observers say the election, believed at press time to have been won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), is the most democratic in the south-east Asian country for 25 years.

 

The road to a democratic Myanmar – also known as Burma – began in 2010 when the ruling military junta backed the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), which has now lost power to the opposition. The military has previously ruled for nearly 50 years.

 

“I welcome the significant turnout for the recent election in Myanmar, which shows that voters are supportive of the country’s democratisation,” said Minister Flanagan. “While there are still further steps that need to be taken to improve the electoral process to ensure inclusiveness, the well-organised and broadly peaceful way in which the elections were carried out marks an encouraging step for the country.”

 

He added: “It will be important to ensure that the remaining steps are carried out in a transparent manner, and that the results are respected by all parties.”

 

However, despite the victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s side, she is prevented from becoming president under the country’s constitution, which disqualifies anyone whose children owe “allegiance to a foreign power”. (Two of Suu Kyi’s sons hold British passports.)

 

Observers also believe that the constitution needs amendment to prevent the country’s unelected military from nominating a quarter of all parliamentarians.

 

The Irish Aid Annual Report 2014 describes Myanmar as “one of the poorest countries in the world with very low development indicators”, adding that there is “ongoing active conflict in a number of its regions and the country faces multiple humanitarian challenges.”

 

Last year, Irish Aid-funded initiatives assisted 160,000 poor households in the country to help improve their nutrition. Irish Aid also supports the Metta fellowship programme, which supported a Myanmarese fellow in their studies at the Kimmage Development Studies Centre.

TAGS : Myanmar Minister for Foreign affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan National League for Democracy NLD
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