Monday, April 30th, 2012

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and fellow opposition MPs will take a parliamentary oath despite disputing the wording of it.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was elected to parliament a month ago, said her party was willing to compromise to prevent it complicating political matters. (more…)

Yangon – Myanmar will overhaul its peace negotiating teams in a bid to settle armed rebellions with ethnic rebel militias following a failure to end a stubborn conflict in the strategic Kachin State, sources close to the process said on Sunday.

A series of attacks in conflict-hit northern Myanmar left at least four officials dead, state media said Sunday, in rare acknowledgement of ethnic unrest that has marred the regime’s reformist image.

Rebels were said to have launched a deadly assault on a government office in Waingmaw Township, Kachin State, where heavy fighting has raged for a year despite the new quasi-civilian government’s insistence that it wants to reach peace deals with the country’s various armed rebel groups. (more…)

An ongoing dispute between parliament and the government over the status of parliamentary committees has taken a new twist.

A week after the National League for Democracy (NLD) declined to take its seats in Parliament over an oath promising to safeguard the military-drafted Constitution, another controversy is emerging over the appointment to the legislature of a commander believed to have played a key role in crushing the 2007 Saffron Revolution. (more…)

Chiang Mai– In response to a Ministry of Mines request to reveal the name of a reporter who wrote an article citing financial transgressions of the ministry by quoting information from the Union auditor-general’s office, the newspaper said it would not do so.

The journal’s editor-in-chief, Kyaw Min Swe, said in a hearing that responsibility for a story should be borne by the editor and the publisher. (more…)

Burma plans to conduct its first census in 31 years, a key step in political reforms that could have a big impact on the country’s marginalized minorities.

Burma’s minister of immigration and population Khin Yi signed a letter confirming his government’s commitment to conduct the nationwide census by 2014. The letter says the first survey in 31 years will adhere to global standards, include “all national races,” and give census workers access to all areas of the country.

Ethnic minority groups in Myanmar are calling on the international community to set stronger benchmarks or steps in the incremental removal of international sanctions, following this week’s announcement by the European Union (EU) to suspend sanctions for a year, retaining only the embargo on arms sales. (more…)

The ancient temples of Pagan are a major attraction for many visitors to Burma. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Tourists and business travelers from the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be the first to benefit from a visa-on-arrival scheme to be introduced by Burma in June, the country’s immigration minister said on Sunday. (more…)

Yangon – European firms seeking to invest in Myanmar are unlikely to rush into business deals until more concrete reforms are put in place, despite a suspension of economic sanctions by the EU, its foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday.

The European Union and other powers have moved in recent weeks to ease sanctions on Myanmar, as the once pariah nation embarks on landmark reforms and seeks engagement with the world. (more…)

A man steps out from a moneychanger as people walk by in Rangoon on 7 December 2011. Burma is ramping up reforms to open up the country economically after 40 years of stagnation and mismanagement.

Burma’s state-run insurance programme, Insurance Business Supervisory Board, will allow private-sector insurance companies to begin operating in the country. (more…)

Burma Campaign UK (BCUK) has urged the British government to do more to persuade the military-backed government in Burma to release all remaining political prisoners.

There have been a series of positive changes in Burma, including the release of high profile political prisoners, and Aung San Suu Kyi being elected as a member of parliament, BCUK said in a statement. However, hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars in appalling conditions in jail, it said. (more…)

RANGOON—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Burma on Sunday to see how the world body can help promote the country’s tentative steps toward democratic reform.

Ban will meet President Thein Sein and visit a UN drug control project during the three-day visit. He will also pay his respects at the tomb of U Thant, a Burmese diplomat who was UN Secretary-General in 1961-71. (more…)

The reformist President Thein Sein has reportedly ordered a re-jig of his peace negotiating committee due to the lack of breakthroughs?especially in northern Burma where violence between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and government troops has been intensifying.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plans to visit Myanmar in May as the country comes in from the cold and emerges as the new darling of the international community. This comes amid Myanmar’s ongoing political reform process, evidenced most recently by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory in parliamentary by-elections on April 1. (more…)