Myanmar’s Suu Kyi defends first year in power

31 March 2017
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi defends first year in power
Photo: Myanmar State Counsellor Office

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi defended her civilian government's first year in power in a rare public address on Thursday, saying her party was dedicated to rebuilding a nation ravaged by decades of army rule.
The democracy icon was swept into office after her party's euphoric victory in the first free polls in a generation.
But her first twelve months in power have been rocky.
Fresh unrest in Myanmar's ethnic minority borderlands and disappointing economic growth in particular have cast a pall over Suu Kyi's two top policy promises: peace and development.
While many in Myanmar still revere the former activist as a saint, criticism of her administration has grown in some international circles, particularly over her tepid response to a bloody military crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya.
In her speech on Thursday, which was broadcast on national television to mark the government's one year anniversary, Suu Kyi stressed that her party had inherited a host of complications from the country's military past.
"We are now trying to change a system which existed for over 50 years," she said.
"We can see our goals clearly and we are marching to reach them. The goals are national reconciliation and peace."
The Nobel laureate must still contend with a powerful military that has retained power over a bloc of parliament and key government ministries.
Yet she has shied away from publicly criticising the generals since coming to power.
In her speech Thursday night Suu Kyi also denounced the UN's decision to investigate allegations of army abuse against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
"We don't accept (the UN's) decision as it is not suitable for the situation of our country," she said, without elaborating.
The violence in Rakhine has sent more than 75,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, carrying with them shocking stories of security officers raping, murdering and torturing villagers.
UN investigators believe troops may have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown, which was triggered after Rohingya militants killed nine policemen in October 2016.
Suu Kyi has previously asked the international community for "space" when it comes to addressing the volatile relationship between Muslims and Rakhine's majority-Buddhist population.
The state is effectively segregated along religious lines, with more than 120,000 Rohingya still trapped in grim displacement camps set up after sectarian violence swept through the region in 2012.
Before the recent crackdown erupted Suu Kyi appointed a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan to advise her administration on the troubled state.
Earlier this month the body recommended the camps be closed and said restrictions on freedom of movement should be lifted.