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Myanmar president pledges continued all-out efforts in democratic reform

NAY PYI TAW, March 2 (Xinhua) — Myanmar President U Thein Sein pledged Thursday to make continued all-out efforts in democratic reform to bring about tangible outcome in a short period of time as aspired by the people.

In a special speech to the ongoing third session of the Union Parliament in Nay Pyi Taw, he said Myanmar is embarking on a historically important road of democratic reform and has made internationally recognizable achievements but is faced with difficulties and challenges ahead.

“If we compare our situation with the current global situation, our democratization process is a successful transition which the people can take as model with great admiration,” he said, attributing the achievements to the harmonious participation by not only the government, but also all stakeholders including political parties, civil societies, parliament members, judicial pillar, media, ethnic leaders and the armed forces.

“Our democracy will become firmer and firmer if we walking on this path with the resolve that there is no turning back while setting aside differences and working together on common ground,” he said.

Assuring that it will stick to the road it has taken, Thein Sein said the government has made efforts to fulfill two main wishes of the people, national reconsolidation and inclusive political process that ensure all the stakeholders to have a place in the process within the framework of the constitution.

He stressed the need for building mutual trust in the spirit of “Panlong,” referring to the historical Panlong Conference which brought unity to nationalities.

He noted the releases of 28,000 prisoners under amnesty orders last year alone has enabled their inclusion in the political process and their participation in the upcoming by-elections.

He reviewed the government’s efforts to reach lasting peace through a three-phase peace making process and urged the conflicting parties in Kachin state to end hostility and keep their promise to start political dialogue.

On economic development, Thein Sein said reform measures are being taken for macro-economy by laying down short- and long-term projects to shape a market-economic system suitable to the nation’ s condition.

He said that facing a volatile global economy and economic sanctions on Myanmar, the government has to solve some urgent issues, such as the prompt issuance of work business permits, export import licenses to facilitate business activities of its citizens, citing some measures already taken to ease export- related taxes and set temporary exchange rates for foreign currencies.

The government has also made plans to amend and pass laws to ensure the proper evolution of the market economy and granted free export of rice, lowered prices of fuel, telephone and car, and made low-cost mobile phone available for people.

The president denied that there are two camps in his government — hard-line camp and soft-line camp. “We are all doing our best with confidence adhering to the policy of our government,” he said. On the fight against corruption rooted in successive eras, he said the government is taking educative measures, giving warning and taking action with all possible approaches to morality and conviction.

The government is trying to raise salaries and allowances for state employees, which account for 3.3 percent of the whole population, depending on macro-economic situation such as current financial situation, foreign debts and deficit without affecting the 58 million or 96.7-percent non-government-employee ordinary people.

On the emergence of different civil society organizations, he said these organizations play an important role in flourishing and strengthening Myanmar’s democracy system, citing the setting up of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the expected formation of Myanmar National Press Council to ensure liberty and accountability with the check-and-balance system in accordance with democratic practices.

On foreign relations, he said his government will uphold an active and independent foreign policy, and maintain amity with both East and West and welcome international support, cooperation and investment, while constantly safeguarding the national sovereignty and interest of the country and the people.

The president pledged that his government would “continue to try harder till a Myanmar society where the rule of law is firm and people living with peace of mind and dignity is emerged in our democratic country enjoying increased per capita income and well- rounded development in addition to economic growth , which are the wants and wishes of people.”

The president’s special speech was made to mark the nearly one- year tenure of the new government which was sworn in on March 30, 2011 after a general election in November 2010.

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