Posts Tagged ‘Burma’
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Aung San Suu Kyi was selected Sunday to remain head of Myanmar’s main opposition party, keeping her leadership post even as the party undergoes a makeover to adjust to the country’s new democratic framework.
The Nobel laureate was named chairwoman of the National League for Democracy’s new executive board on the final day of a landmark three-day party congress attended by 894 delegates from around the country.
The congress also expanded the group’s Central Executive Committee from seven members to 15, in a revitalization and reform effort ahead of Myanmar’s 2015 general election. The party is seeking to infuse its ranks with new faces, expertise and diversity without sidelining long-standing members.
“We have to see how effectively and efficiently the new leaders can perform their duties,” said Suu Kyi, who has led the NLD since its inception in 1988. “We hope they will learn through experience.”
Suu Kyi is the sole holdover from the party’s original executive board when it was founded, but the other new members are also mostly long-serving party loyalists. A broader Central Committee of 120 members was elected by the delegates and endorsed the executive board, which was given five reserve members.
The party, which came into being as the army was crushing a mass pro-democracy uprising in 1988, won a 1990 general election that was nullified by the then-ruling military. The NLD boycotted a 2010 general election, but after a military-backed elected government took office in 2011 and instituted democratic reforms, it contested by-elections in 2012, winning 43 of 44 seats and putting Suu Kyi into parliament.
Emerging from repression that limited its actions — not least because Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members spent years under detention — Suu Kyi vowed in her opening speech Saturday to inject the party with “new blood” and decentralize decision-making.
She said the NLD would go through an experimental stage with the new leadership and should anticipate some obstacles but “not be discouraged.”
Although the 2012 by-election results showed that the NLD still has broad and deep appeal, the party faces challenges.
The army-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party of President Thein Sein, besides being well-financed and enjoying the benefits of controlling the bureaucracy, has staked out a position as reformist.
It can boast of freeing the press, releasing most of the country’s political prisoners and convincing foreign nations to lift most economic sanctions they had imposed against the former military regime for its poor human rights record. It hopes that opening up Myanmar, also known as Burma, to foreign investment will kick-start a moribund economy and win it popular appeal.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the NLD’s agreement to play by parliamentary rules — in effect endorsing Thein Sein’s reform efforts — leaves an opening for more hard-core anti-military activists to win over a share of disaffected voters who prefer a quicker pace of change than now allowed under the army-dictated constitution.
Speaking to the party meeting after her selection as chairman on Sunday, Suu Kyi said that in choosing executive board members there was an effort to include women, members of ethnic minorities and younger people, in addition to members with a record of continuous party service. Four women and several ethnic minority members are on the new board.
Suu Kyi acknowledged to reporters that younger members were underrepresented on the Central Executive Committee compared to the bigger Central Committee.
“We need experienced members who know the policies, tradition and history of the party and who had been in the party for the last 25 years,” said Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest. “After some time, the younger generation will take over their place. There should be connectivity between the past, present and future.”
Suu Kyi’s colleagues expressed satisfaction with the meeting’s results.
“The new CEC and Central Committee members will enjoy the trust of the majority because we are elected democratically. I believe we will be able to carry out our work more effectively,” May Win Myint, a veteran NLD member jailed many times for her activities, said after being elected to the executive board.
Kyi Phyu Shin, a well-known film director who became an NLD member six months ago and was elected to the Central Committee, said she was “very confident that the NLD will become a tight organization, very active and competitive. The congress helps institute better democratic practices in the NLD.”
Their third meeting aimed at assessing reforms comes amid tensions in Rakhine state.
The meeting came as the government gave rare approval to a visit by a 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) team to the troubled Burmese state of Rakhine amid concerns of human rights abuses on the ethnic minority Muslim Rohingya.
Government and opposition officials confirmed the meeting between the two leaders, the first since Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as member of parliament in May and the third since August last year when maiden talks between the two were held.
Like the previous two meetings, no details were released of the latest talks, held at the country’s capital Naypyidaw and attended also by key Cabinet ministers, including Soe Thane, who leads a government panel conducting peace talks with ethnic groups.
The Thein Sein-Aung San Suu Kyi meeting was aimed at finding a broad consensus on political and other reforms and bringing an end to long running ethnic conflicts in the country, according to various officials.
Suu Kyi was recently appointed to lead a parliamentary committee on the rule of law and in her inaugural address to the legislature last month sought laws to protect the rights of ethnic minorities.
President Thein Sein’s administration, which came to power in March last year after decades of brutal military rule, has struck ceasefire agreements with 10 ethnic armed groups but fighting continues with other groups such as those in Kachin state in the north which has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Recent clashes between Buddhist ethnic Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state in the west of the country have also left dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless.
The Burmese government has come under international pressure over the June clashes after the United Nations voiced concerns of a crackdown on Rohingya and Human Rights Watch issued a report alleging abuses by security forces in the region.
Aung San Suu Kyi had said that “the most important lesson” from the Rakhine conflict is the country’s “need for rule of law,” which she added is also key to resolving the numerous armed ethnic conflicts in the country.
In what is seen as a conciliatory move, Thein Sein has agreed to allow the OIC to deliver “urgent aid” to displaced Rohingyas, the global Muslim group said in a statement on its website at the weekend.
The approval came after he met Friday with an OIC delegation led by Jusuf Kalla, a former Indonesian Vice-President, the statement said.
The delegation briefed the president “on the concern of the Muslim world about the ongoing regrettable developments in the humanitarian situation in [Rakhine state] and on the readiness of the OIC to deliver urgent assistance to the entire [Rakhine state], without discrimination,” according to the statement.
Saudi, Turkish aid In a separate report, Saudi Arabia said its leader, King Abdullah, has ordered U.S. $50 million in aid to be sent to the Ronhingya in Rakhine. Last week Turkey announced similar financial assistance. A report on the Saudi state news agency said the Rohingya community had been “exposed to many violations of human rights including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement,” according to Reuters.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Sittwe, Rakhine’s capital, last week to assess the humanitarian needs following the June violence and is expected to brief an OIC summit in Mecca on Tuesday on the latest situation, reports say.
An activist speaks during a ceremony to mark the 24th anniversary of the Aug. 8, 1988, demonstrations, which triggered one of the country’s bloodiest uprisings, in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2012. Crowds have turned out in cities across Myanmar to publicly commemorate the anniversary of pro-democracy protests, which for the first time won approval; and partial funding; from the government. Khin Maung Win / AP Photo
By YADANA HTUN, Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar – Crowds turned out Wednesday in cities across Myanmar to commemorate the 24th anniversary of massive pro-democracy protests, with the government giving its approval – and even financial support – for the first time.
Former political prisoners joined hundreds of others at rallies in Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere to mark the Aug. 8, 1988, start of weeks of protests across the country that were bloodily suppressed by the military.
Government approval for Wednesday’s rallies would be unthinkable a few years ago. While the country was under military rule, citizens did not dare to mark the anniversary publicly for fear of arrest.
President Thein Sein, who has introduced a wave of globally praised reforms since taking office last year, sent two Cabinet ministers to inform organizers on Tuesday that the government was approving their request to hold the rallies. The ministers also handed over 1 million kyat ($1,200) in cash to help fund the events, said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 1988 uprising who spent many years in prison.
“It’s as if the government is also participating in this commemoration,” Ko Ko Gyi said in a telephone interview from Mandalay, where the main rally was being held. “I feel like this is a step toward reform.”
Presidential spokesman Nay Zin Latt said the government recognized the anniversary as a “historic event” and the president wanted to show his sincerity about achieving national reconciliation.
“The president always talks about national reconciliation,” the spokesman said. “This action can help build better mutual understanding.”
After a demonstration by students on Aug. 8, 1988, the uprising spread throughout the country, drawing an estimated million people. Several thousand were killed before the protests were crushed the following month. The military repealed the constitution and imposed martial law.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a leader of the democracy movement during the protests. Her political party swept elections held in 1990, but the military refused to let it take power.
“The ’88 uprising was the symbol of the people’s cooperation,” Ko Ko Gyi said. “It makes us remember our friends who are still in prison and those who live abroad. It also reminds me of our hard times.”
Human rights groups say authorities are still holding an unknown number of political prisoners, although the most famous have been released over the past two years, including Suu Kyi.
Last month, authorities temporarily detained more than 20 activists ahead of a planned commemoration of the 50th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on students in July 1962.
Although all were freed after about a day, their colleagues said the detentions showed that the government remains repressive despite its reforms.
YANGON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — Myanmar is committed to accomplishing its obligations for the progress and perpetuation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) while the country is sharing the fortune of ASEAN with other member nations in political, economic and social spheres, Myanmar President U Thein Sein said on Wednesday.
In his message on the occasion of the 45th ASEAN anniversary, Thein Sein stressed the need to endeavor toward the full realization of the Bali Concord-3 “ASEAN Community, in the Global Community of Nations” adopted by ASEAN leaders at the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Warning that there are also challenges at the time ASEAN is making achievements, Thein Sein emphasized the need for ASEAN people including those of Myanmar to do their utmost in the regional integration efforts, aimed at reducing the development gap among member nations and implementing the master plan on ASEAN connectivity as identified by ASEAN leaders in the Phnom Penh Declaration and Phnom Penh Agenda at the 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in July.
Noting that Myanmar is moving towards a modern and developed nation with disciplined democracy, he said the mission that Myanmar is undertaking is dedicated to the interest of the state and the people and it is also in line with the principles of ASEAN.
He urged the Myanmar people to contribute to maintaining ASEAN solidarity and ASEAN’s centrality in addressing regional and international issues, to strive for the emergence of a people- centered community and to exert efforts to play a more pronounced role in ASEAN in accordance with the active, independent and non- aligned foreign policy of Myanmar as well as to strive for the successful chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.
Myanmar joined ASEAN in July 1997. In 2011, the ASEAN Inter- Parliamentary Assembly granted Myanmar’s parliament a full-fledged membership.
Renewed violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya has left three people dead in Myanmar, a government official said on Monday, amid growing international concern about the sectarian unrest.
The fighting in western Rakhine state has killed 80 people from both sides since June, official figures show, although authorities say the situation has been generally calm in recent weeks.
The new casualties, who were not identified, died on Sunday in Kyauktaw about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe, said the official, who did not want to be named. Five others were reported wounded.
“The situation is calm and back to normal already,” the official told AFP. “We do not know why it started again.”
The violence initially broke out in June following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.
The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
Myanmar’s government has rejected accusations of abuse by security forces in Rakhine, after the United Nations raised fears of a crackdown on Muslims.
The entire state has been under emergency rule since early June with a heavy army and police presence.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.
The authorities failed to protect both sides and then “unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya,” the group said in a report released last week.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants by the Myanmar government and many Burmese, and many have attempted to flee overseas in rickety boats.
Its industry minister says the country’s average income per person could eclipse those of its two neighbors soon.
Burma hopes to overtake neighbors Laos and Cambodia in terms of average income per person within two to three years, as the country embraces political and economic reforms, Burmese Industry Minister Soe Thein said Monday.
“I hope we will have higher average income per person than Laos and Cambodia by 2014-15. It is possible,” he said in an interview with RFA’s Burmese service.
Soe Thein was answering a question on his expectations for the Burmese economy in the next five years.
Burma is languishing with a gross national income per capita of U.S. $379.60, based on U.N. figures in 2009, the lowest among its fellow member states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Laos has a per capita income of U.S. $1,130 while Cambodia has U.S. $830, based on 2011 figures by the World Bank.
The gross national income per capita is the dollar value of a country’s final income in a year, divided by its population. It reflects the average income of a country’s citizens.
A nominally civilian government that took over power in Burma in March last year after decades of harsh military rule and financial mismanagement is implementing democratic and economic reforms that have led the international community to ease sanctions on the country.
As part of economic reforms, President Thein Sein’s government, with the help of the International Monetary Fund, launched a managed float of its kyat currency in April to help normalize and unify its multiple exchange rates.
Foreign investment law The country’s parliament is also discussing a foreign investment law, which reports say will spell out new tax exemptions, land-use terms, legal structures, and incentives for foreign companies.
“Our existing law [on trade] are already good. But to be able to compete with [neighboring] ASEAN [countries] and to protect the people, to protect our environment, we are drafting the new law,” Soe Thein said.
“Actually it was already discussed at the parliament in the first session, and now this is going to be discussed again,” he said.
When asked when the much awaited law will be approved, he said, “It doesn’t matter, it will be done at some point.”
“Even if this is not done yet, the existing foreign direct investment law is not bad at all. We can apply it for now. When the new law is approved, we can enjoy better benefits.”
Soe Thein said Burmese authorities will treat foreign companies on an equal basis based on market forces even though Burma has been close to China for decades especially under military rule.
“This is a market economy. Local partners will choose. If we consider efficiency, let’s say if you buy something, you choose a good product. In business, you have to choose the best partner,” he said. Asked whether foreign investments are flowing into Burma rapidly in line with reforms, he said there could be a significant rise early next year.
“We are going to have it. For now, we are still in the process of discussing. I myself have been discussing many times already. It will be a lot more progress by the beginning of next year, I think. Meanwhile, there is some increase.”
On potential employment benefits, the minister said some 110,000 jobs had been created over the last year with a potential for one million jobs when the government enters into peace with ethnic armed rebel groups.
“When the peace process is done, we will have more job opportunities in the [ethnic] regions [through the efforts of] international donors. Creating jobs is considered the number one criteria. We choose factories that can provide more jobs. Eventually we will have up to a million [jobs].”
The government has struck ceasefire agreements with several ethnic armed groups but their leaders said that the ceasefire is just the first step of a process that must include political solutions.
Clashes have been reported regularly in Shan state, Karenni state, Karen state and most notably in Kachin state, where rebels have not reached a truce despite several rounds of negotiations.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, …
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Myanmar President Thein Sein on Friday for landmark talks days after Washington eased its sanctions on the once-pariah state.
The pair began talks in the Cambodian tourist town Siem Reap on the sidelines of a business conference, after the US on Wednesday gave the green light to firms to invest in Myanmar, including in oil and gas, in its greatest loosening of tough sanctions so far.
They met amid concerns among rights groups the US is moving too fast in its eagerness to cash in on Myanmar’s vast business potential.
Washington on Wednesday gave the green light for firms to invest in the southeast Asian country, including in oil and gas, in its greatest loosening of sanctions to reward reforms after nearly half a century of military rule.
The decision will please US firms eager not to miss out on what some economists expect to be a goldrush in the resource-rich nation.
Asian firms have been doing business in Myanmar for years, while the European Union suspended most of its sanctions against the country in April.
Myanmar on Friday said Thein Sein and Clinton were expected to discuss changes that have swept Myanmar since a quasi-civilian government replaced the military junta last year.
“The meeting shows the support of the US government to Myanmar’s reform process,” Zaw Htay, director of the president’s office, told AFP.
Clinton acknowledged Friday in a speech to a women’s forum in the Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap that in Myanmar “as the economy opens up, there will be new challenges”.
“It will be tempting, given the country’s extremely low wages, to try to attract investment by undercutting competitors like Bangladesh and Cambodia.”
But she argued long-term sustainable development would be strengthened if the nation’s leaders “focus on protecting workers, attracting quality jobs, and continuing to reform the political system”.
And she insisted Washington was setting up “protections to ensure that increased American investment advances rather than undermines the reform process” as US firms will have to report on transparency and labour rights.
Myanmar — along with regional neighbours — has called for all sanctions to be lifted as the country embarks on its “second wave” of economic reforms.
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed the sanctions decision, but called for greater transparency at state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which US firms will be able to do business with under the new rules.
Her comments were echoed by influential US Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who said operations at the organisation “remain non-transparent and the billions of dollars in foreign investment that it receives remain unaccountable to the people and parliament of Burma”.
Human Rights Watch went further, saying Washington had “caved to industry pressure” because it did not insist on reforms in governance and human rights.
Thein Sein’s comments to the UN Thursday that refugee camps or deportation was the “solution” for stateless Muslim Rohingya, following communal violence last month in western Myanmar, are also likely to alarm Western nations.
Left impoverished by decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule, the country is seen as the next big frontier in Asia for firms wanting to take advantage of its resources, cheap labour force, high growth potential and strategic position between China and India.
Thein Sein told the Singapore Straits Times his country would sign up to an Oslo-based initiative to enhance transparency of payments in the oil and minerals sector.
He told the daily that “foreign investment had to benefit the people of this country to help raise their incomes.”
Thein Sein will be introduced by Clinton at a US-ASEAN business forum Friday in Siem Reap which will be the largest ever gathering of American corporate leaders in Asia.
Executives from Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, DHL and Goldman Sachs are among dozens of US companies travelling to the conference.
A high-level delegation of US business leaders will be visiting Yangon and the capital Naypyidaw in the coming days.
ASEAN countries’ foreign ministers pose during a photo session at the 45th Association of Foreign Ministers’ Plus Three Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 10, 2012. .
When ASEAN leaders gathered in Phnom Penh in early April, the questions surrounding Burma focused on when, rather than if, international sanctions would be lifted. Burma had just staged key by-elections, during which opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi emerged victorious. The feeling from ASEAN officials was that Burma, should be rewarded.
The international community responded. The United States, Australia, the European Union all announced a relaxation of their sanctions. But, for ASEAN, the goal is to have sanctions completely removed.
“I think the U.S. and the EU are adopting two separate strategies,” said Surin. “The EU is suspending sanctions, meaning anything can go, but it can be imposed again. The U.S. is relaxing it step by step, so two strategies. We appreciate that. But we hope that the pace will be quick and that evolution inside Myanmar will warrant a serious reconsideration of the measures put in place for the sanctions.”
Surin rejects suggestions that the international community’s reluctance to completely remove sanctions, is causing friction with ASEAN.
However, some observers have a more blunt assessment.
Thayer says one problem is that ending sanctions is much more complicated than imposing them in the first place.
“Sanctions are so complex because you have to have unanimity in the EU, and in the United States you have congressionally imposed sanctions and U.S. presidential executive orders,” said Thayer. “So in both areas it’s a huge maze. It’s easier to suspend, than it is to get complete unanimity.”
“It was our encouragement, that if you want to chair ASEAN, which is both the responsibility and the prestige and the honor, you will have to do a lot of things, and ASEAN I think has been instrumental,” said Surin. “Now we are helping them. We are opening up opportunities for them. They come and observe meetings like this, meetings like in Indonesia. Working their way into 2014.”
Although ASEAN has a large stake in ensuring Burma’s chairmanship is as trouble-free as possible, Burma’s government, too, stands to benefit domestically from becoming chair. General elections are planned for just a year later, in 2015.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a political analyst at Kyoto University, says, if Burma is serious about staging truly free and fair elections this time around, chairing ASEAN could go a long way to boosting the government’s image, within its own borders.
“I think 2014 is such a crucial year for both Burma and ASEAN. 2014, it would be just only one year before the general election in Burma,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun. “The fact that the Burmese leadership want the ASEAN chairmanship so much is because this could legitimize the regime so as to be able to win the election in 2015. People might not think it’s important but it’s very important in the context of Burmese politics. To be able to open up the country, to bring a lot of potential ASEAN investors including the ASEAN dialogue partners, this would be a time to showcase Burma. So it would be very much important for Burma.”
Pavin says, by the same token, ASEAN will be just as eager to ensure that Burma’s chairmanship runs smoothly. And, that may mean the priorities for other issues, like human rights, may fall by the wayside.
French actor Alain Delon (R) shakes hands with Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi next to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L)
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
PARIS – Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi wraps up her triumphant tour of Europe in France on Thursday, after being lauded during her visits as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.
The Nobel Peace laureate – who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle – has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.
In France, she was treated with honours normally reserved for a head of state, dining at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday with President Francois Hollande, who pledged support for her country’s transition towards democracy.
Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi’s party back into mainstream politics.
Suu Kyi, 67, has in the past two weeks visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and now France, receiving rock star welcomes along the way.
The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, and to thank groups and institutions from the Rafto Foundation and Amnesty International to Oxford University for awards they have given her.
On Thursday she was to visit both houses of France’s parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – and talk to students at the Sorbonne university in Paris.
She started the day with a 45-minute breakfast with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in a Paris hotel.
On Wednesday, Suu Kyi received her 2004 honorary citizen of Paris certificate and was hailed by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe for her “tenacity” and “unshakeable faith” in her campaign for democracy in the country formerly called Burma.
Suu Kyi has enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, “The Lady”, directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.
Suu Kyi also met Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and planted a tree in the ministry’s gardens.
“For us, you are the lady of human rights,” Fabius told her during the ceremony.
“We are just at the beginning of the road. We need to be extremely careful within the next three years,” Suu Kyi said at the ceremony, referring to parliamentary elections due in Myanmar in 2015.
On Tuesday, Hollande said France gave its full backing to the transition efforts in Myanmar, and said Paris was ready to welcome Thein Sein, who also received an invitation from former colonial ruler Britain last week.
Major Western powers have rolled back or suspended long-standing sanctions against Myanmar, a resource-rich but deeply impoverished country.
Suu Kyi has on her tour called for human rights-friendly investment.
AFP,27 June 2012
Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will meet with officials in France on Wednesday after winning assurances from President Francois Hollande that Paris will back her reform efforts.
On the second day of a three-day visit to France — the last leg of her landmark tour of Europe — Suu Kyi will be made an honourary citizen of Paris and meet with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
After meeting with her on Tuesday, Hollande said France would support “all actors” in Myanmar’s reforms and that Paris was ready to welcome reformist President Thein Sein if he wanted to visit.
“I reaffirm here that France will support all the actors in (Myanmar)’s democratic transition and will do everything possible with… the European Union so that this process goes to the end,” Hollande said at a joint press conference with Suu Kyi in the Elysee Palace.
Asked about Thein Sein, who Britain last week invited to visit, Hollande said: “If he wants to come, he will come.”
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 67, came to France after warm welcomes in Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Britain and was treated with honours normally accorded a head of state, including a dinner with Hollande and other top officials.
Suu Kyi was freed from nearly two decades of house arrest in November 2010 and became a lawmaker earlier this year as part of a gradual transition towards democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.
She has used the European tour to call for transparent investment in Myanmar.
“We need democracy as well as economic development,” she said. “Development cannot be a substitute for democracy, it must be used to strengthen the foundations of democracy.”
Suu Kyi said “financial transparency in the extractive industries and in fact business in general” were essential to investment.
She said efforts still needed to be made to convince the Myanmar regime of the need for democratic reforms but that Thein Sein seemed sincere.
“I believe that the president is sincere and I believe that he is honest, but I cannot speak for everybody in the government,” she said.
“I don’t think we can say it (reform) is irreversible until such time as the army is committed to that.”
Pierre Martial, the head of the France Aung San Suu Kyi association, said her visit to France was motivated by a desire to thank her supporters in the country.
“France is a symbol in the hearts of many” in Myanmar, he said. “It remains the country of human rights and it is a country that was very mobilised for her.”
“Aung San Suu Kyi wanted to truly thank all those who helped her during these long years of repression.”
She enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, “The Lady”, directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.
Suu Kyi launched her European tour on June 13 in Switzerland and arrived in France from Britain, her home for years until she returned to fight for democracy in Myanmar, leaving her children and her English husband behind.
On June 16 in Oslo she finally delivered her Nobel Peace Prize speech, 21 years after winning the award while under house arrest, pledging to keep up her struggle for democracy.
Suu Kyi’s trip to Europe has been clouded by violence in western Myanmar where dozens have been killed and an estimated 90,000 people have fled clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya.
Asked about the violence on Tuesday, Suu Kyi said democratic reform was essential to resolving civil conflicts.
“We will need time to bring true harmony between the Muslims and the Buddhists,” she said.
“What is most important at the moment is that we should establish rule of law,” she said. “We need to make sure that these citizenship laws are in line with international standards.”