Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party announced Thursday that its iconic pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will leave the country next week for the first time in 24 years to attend an international forum in Thailand next week.
An official from the NLD told reporters on Thursday that Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia to be held in Bangkok from 30 May to 1 June. Myanmar's President Thein Sein is also expected to attend the event. Nevertheless, the event's organizers are yet to confirm Suu Kyi's participation.
Since her arrival in 1988 from Britain where she was living for many years, Suu Kyi had opted to remain in Myanmar, previously Burma. Her decision was based on fears that she might not be allowed to return to Myanmar by the then-ruling military junta if she traveled overseas.
She was issued a passport earlier this month by the country's current civilian government led by President Sein. The NLD had secured 40 of the 45 seats contested in the recent by-elections. Suu Kyi herself was overwhelmingly elected from the rural township of Kawhmu. Nevertheless, the Army and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) still dominate the 664-seat bi-cameral Parliament with about 80 percent seats.
NLD had secured a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, but could not assume power as the ruling military junta refused to recognize the poll results. Suu Kyi herself was under house-arrest for most of the past 20 years. Although the NLD had boycotted the November 2010 polls, it later decided to rejoin mainstream politics and was subsequently allowed to contest the by-polls.
Following the widely acclaimed by-polls, Western powers, including the United States, Britain, EU and Australia, have softened their approach toward Myanmar in recent weeks and eased some of their sanctions imposed on the previous military junta, mostly over continued detention of political prisoners and suppression of pro-democracy protests.
Since assuming power in March 2011, the new government led by President Sein has released thousands of political prisoners detained by the previous military junta and implemented several reforms demanded by the Opposition and the international community.
Suu Kyi's latest decision to embark on an overseas trip reflects her confidence that she would be allowed back in by the present civilian government. In addition to her upcoming Thailand trip, Suu Kyi has also accepted invitations to visit several EU nations, including Britain, as well as the United Nations headquarters in New York.
by RTT Staff Writer
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