UNITED NATIONS – Myanmars president Thursday said his country has taken irreversible steps toward democracy and paid unprecedented public tribute to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
President Thein Sein told the U.N. General Assembly that the country is leaving behind five decades of authoritarian rule.
It was a speech that reflected the momentous changes in Myanmar over the past year, as Suu Kyi has been elected to parliament after 15 years of house arrest, and the country has shed its pariah status.
For the first time, Myanmars speech to the U.N.s annual gathering of world leaders was broadcast live on state television at home. Never before had such a speech even mentioned the opposition leader.
While former general Thein Sein has orchestrated Myanmars political opening, he has not publicly praised Suu Kyi before, nor referred to her as Nobel laureate as he did Thursday.
As a Myanmar citizen, I would like to congratulate her for the honors she has received in this country in recognition of her efforts for democracy, Thein Sein said.
Suu Kyi spoke at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday during her visit to America, and last week met President Obama and was presented with Congress highest award. She attended a meeting on global education on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday.
Thein Sein said in his speech that the country has seen amazing changes. He said Myanmar – including its armed forces – have been taking tangible, irreversible steps in the democratic transition and reforms process.
Experts on Myanmar stay that while the new legislature is energetic, it remains dominated by pro-military parties. Suu Kyis National League for Democracy, which won 1990 elections but was barred from power, still has only a tiny portion of the seats, which it won in special elections in April.