Issues Suu Kyi Should Deal With by Editorial of Irrawaddy
Burma's democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention. Her latest period of house arrest, which began in May 2003, is due to end this weekend, and she is expected to re-engage in politics after her release. The Irrawaddy has identified six areas where her leadership could be instrumental in finding long-term solutions to political and cultural issues.
• The Junta: Suu Kyi has tried to seek a political dialogue with the junta to restore national reconciliation in the country, but that effort has failed during the past 20 years. The junta has refused to open a door for a genuine dialogue. For now, she should work to engage a broad participation of other stakeholders from the academic, social and economic sectors to seek a broad-based consensus for national reconciliation throughout the country.
• Political Prisoners: Despite her release, there are more than 2,100 political prisoners locked up in prisons across the country. The release of all political prisoners should be a priority when she resumes the leadership of the democratic movement.
• National Unity and Ethnic Armed Conflicts: She has already initiated the idea of holding “a second Panglong conference” to restore the unity of all ethnic nationals residing in the country, but she has not been able to effectively deal with the issues affecting the cease-fire and non-ceasefire ethnic groups in the past. The recent armed conflicts between the junta's troops and a splinter group of the cease-fire Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) in Karen State showed the need to end armed conflicts. She should focus on a dialogue with all ethnic groups, including the cease-fire armed groups, that leads to the creation of a second Panglong conference.
• Political Division: Political divisions have intensified due to the recent election. Democratic forces are divided into two political camps: those who boycotted the election and those who contested the election. As democratic leader, Suu Kyi should seek an opportunity to talk with both camps and try to reconcile their differences. She should first initiate a reunion of the NLD and the National Democratic Force (NDF), which broke away from the NLD. Moreover, unlike the political landscape before her detention in 2003, new political parties now exist. She must initiate a political strategy to include them in a reconciliation effort.
• The 2008 Constitution and the 2010 Election Results: The NLD rejected the Constitution as undemocratic. The Nov. 7 election held in accord with the Constitution was deeply flawed by the junta's vote rigging and violations of its own electoral laws. Suu Kyi should take this opportunity to form a broader political alliance to address Constitutional and parliamentary issues.
• Sanctions, Aid and the International Community: Suu Kyi has voiced her interest in finding a way to lift the international economic sanctions that affect the people and she has tried to extend her hand to the junta to cooperate in lifting the sanctions. After a review of all sanctions, she should work for their elimination, and work to formulate a clear policy on international humanitarian aid to Burma, and seek ways to broaden access to international aid programs that seek to work inside the country.