Date: May 01 2012
UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Western nations to further ease sanctions against Burma as the party of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi ended a boycott of the country's military-dominated parliament.
In the first address to the parliament by a foreigner since 1962, Mr Ban said he welcomed the easing or lifting of sanctions by the international community but ''more needs to be done''.
''Today, I urge the international community to go even further in lifting, suspending or easing trade restrictions and other sanctions,'' he said.
Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, was not in parliament to hear the address because of her party's boycott over disagreement with the wording of the oath sworn by new MPs.
But Ms Suu Kyi said her party had decided to end the boycott after requests from the public.
''Politics is an issue of give and take … we are not giving up, we are just yielding to the aspirations of the people,'' she said.
The boycott threatened to slow the momentum towards reconciliation in the country of 62 million mainly impoverished people after five decades of repressive military rule.
It also upset some of Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy supporters, who wanted to see her take her seat in parliament after almost 23 years of harassment by the military, which kept her under house arrest for 15 years.
Ms Suu Kyi and more than 40 other NLD members who won April 1 byelections are expected to take their seats tomorrow.
On Mr Ban's previous visit to the country in 2009, the ruling military junta refused to allow him to see Ms Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest.
But under President Thein Sein's 16-month leadership Burma has embarked on dramatic political and economic liberalisation, freeing more than 600 political prisoners, legalising trade unions, easing media restrictions and overhauling economic policies.
The government has also begun peace talks with more than a dozen armed ethnic groups.
Mr Ban's comments on sanctions appear to be aimed mainly at the US which has eased some sanctions but has left some major ones in place, including a ban on new investment. The European Union suspended all of its sanctions last week.
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