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Aung San Suu Kyi ends boycott to make Myanmar parliamentary debut

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Despite the party's success in trouncing the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in the recent by-elections, the NLD holds only 6 percent of seats in Myanmar's parliament because only a fraction of parliamentary seats were up for a vote. Most of the rest are held by the USDP and the military.

“It will be very difficult to amend the constitution,” says Ko Mya Aye, a well-known former political prisoner who was freed in a January amnesty as part of the Myanmar government's recent loosening of long-standing political oppression. “The army has 25 percent of seats but any change [to the constitution] requires 75 percent of the parliament to vote for it,” he added, speaking by telephone from Yangon.

But Myanmar's government, headed by former general Thein Sein, has loosened in recent months and pledges more reforms – such as a revised print media code – during the current parliament sitting, which Aung San Suu Kyi will join on Wednesday, after meeting visiting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier today. He praised Aung San Suu Kyi for supporting democratization by making a political compromise.

Mr. Ban also urged Western countries to remove remaining economic sanctions on Myanmar, in response to recent reforms.

The EU has suspended sanctions for one year, while the US has relaxed some measures, a move that does not go far enough, according to American business lobbies looking at Myanmar as an investment destination. "Failure by the United States to take similar steps (to the EU) will do more than put American companies at a commercial disadvantage vis-a-vis their competitors," said the US-ASEAN Business Council in a recent statement.

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