Suu Kyi sworn in, vows to keep true to her vision
OPPOSITION leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been sworn in to Burma's military-backed parliament, taking public office for the first time since launching her struggle against authoritarian rule nearly a quarter of a century ago.
The opposition leader's entry into the legislature yesterday heralds a new political era in Burma, cementing a risky detente between her party and the reformist government of President Thein Sein, which inherited power from the army last year.
Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party will occupy too few seats to have any real power in the ruling-party-dominated assembly, however, and there are fears the presence of the opposition MPs could simply legitimise the regime without any change.
Aung San Suu Kyi and elected members of her National League for Democracy party take the oath of office yesterday. Photo: AP
But the new MPs are also likely to bring a level of public debate to the legislative body that has never been seen as they prepare for the next general election in 2015.
The swearing-in ceremony took place in the capital, Naypyidaw, built by the former army junta. Ms Suu Kyi stood along with several dozen of her party's MPs as the Speaker the lower house asked them to read the oath. Speaking briefly to reporters afterwards, Ms Suu Kyi said her focus would be ''to carry out our duties within the parliament as we have been carrying out our duties outside … for the last 20 or so years''.
Her ascent marks an astonishing reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world's most prominent prisoners of conscience, held under house arrest for much of the past two decades.
When the 1991 Nobel peace prize winner was released in 2010, just after a vote her party boycotted that was deemed neither free nor fair, few could have imagined she would make the leap from democracy advocate to elected official in less than 18 months.
But the road has not been easy. This week she backed down in a dispute over the oath of office which, had it persisted, could have spiralled into another crisis.