Thu 31 Mar 2011
Filed under: International
Washington – The United States said Wednesday it remains deeply concerned by the “oppressive political environment” in Myanmar even with the disbanding of a military junta.
Washington is demanding the release of political prisoners and official recognition of the National League for Democracy, the main and now dissolved opposition party of pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We remain deeply concerned about Burma’s oppressive political environment,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
Myanmar’s strongman leader Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree officially dissolving the military junta, clearing the way for the installation of a civilian government.
The army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, however, and many analysts believe Than Shwe will attempt to retain some sort of control behind the scenes.
The handover came after widely-panned elections last November — the country’s first in 20 years — which were marred by the absence of Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation.
Toner, without commenting directly on the move, blasted the November vote as a “fundamentally flawed electoral process that has ensured the key military regime figures have continued to dominate the government.”
In late 2009, President Barack Obama’s administration sought to engage in a dialogue with the junta, noting that sanctions alone would have little impact on one of the most closed regimes in the world, which has rarely flinched to Western pressure.
Former prime minister Thein Sein, a key Than Shwe ally, was earlier sworn in as president at the parliament in Naypyidaw.
He is among a slew of generals who shed their army uniforms to contest the elections last year and are now civilian members of parliament, which also had a quarter of its seats allocated to the military.