ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Aung Sung Suu Kyi takes oath
2 May 2012
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as a member of parliament Wednesday, opening a new chapter in the Nobel laureate's near quarter-century struggle against authoritarian rule.
The 66-year-old, in the capital Naypyidaw for the ceremony, stood to read the brief oath in unison with 33 other members of her National League for Democracy party elected to the lower house in April, an AFP reporter said.
The oath hands Suu Kyi public office for the first time and marks a transformation in the fortunes of the opposition leader, who was held under house arrest for much of the last 20 years but is now central to the nation's tentative transition to democracy.
Suu Kyi had initially baulked at taking the oath, specifically a sentence pledging to "safeguard" the army-created constitution.
Asked by an AFP reporter as she left parliament whether the ceremony had been an emotional occasion, Suu Kyi replied: "No, it was just interesting."
The international community greeted her election as a step towards democracy and had urged Suu Kyi, who drew huge crowds on the campaign trail, to take her seat amid fears her refusal could stall the transition from military rule.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday welcomed her climbdown over the oath, expressing hope of further cooperation between the NLD and Thein Sein's government.
In comments later echoed by the US State Department, Ban said his meetings in Myanmar this week with Thein Sein and the NLD leader had left him "convinced that they will continue to make progress."
Members of the NLD -- the main opposition force after securing 43 of the 44 seats it contested in April 1 by-elections -- flanked her during the short ceremony in Naypyidaw.
"Aung San Suu Kyi and the League (NLD) should not push themselves into paradoxes by agreeing to participate in the army's constitutional game while refusing the rules," he added.
"We have always believed in flexibility, in the political process... that is the only way in which we can achieve our goal without violence," she said.
Last week, European Union nations suspended most sanctions against the resource-rich but poor nation for one year to reward the reforms, which included releasing some political prisoners.
But the United States has ruled out an immediate end to its main sanctions on Myanmar.
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