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British PM to visit Burma this week


(Mizzima) – David Cameron will be the first head of a western state to visit Burma since it formed a quasi-civilian government a little more than one year ago.

Britist PM David Cameron  Photo: number10.gov.ukCameron, who is scheduled to arrive perhaps on Thursday, will hold talks with President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, the newly elected Member of Parliament.

A government official in Burma said Cameron would meet President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw, and hold talks with opposition leader Suu Kyi in Rangoon on the same day, according to The Independent newspaper.

Cameron, who was in Japan today, is scheduled to visit Indonesia and Malaysia on Wednesday.

Both the British foreign secretary, William Hague, and the international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, have visited Burma in recent months.

Hague was the first British foreign secretary to visit in 55 years, and at the time urged the country to do more to release political prisoners, if further sanctions are to be lifted.

Hague warned last week, after the successful Burmese by-election, that it was still too early to judge how free and fair the elections were, saying he awaited reports, “but certainly it appears to have been a very important moment of change.”

Hague said EU foreign ministers had indicated that many of the sanctions imposed on Burma would be lifted if political prisoners were released and Sunday's elections were free.

Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 22 years under house arrest by the former junta, won a seat in Parliament for the first time in the April 1 elections that were largely praised by the West as a step towards democracy.

Her National League for Democracy party secured 43 of the 44 seats it contested, becoming the main opposition force in a national parliament dominated by the military and its government-backed political party. Suu Kyi’s debut in Parliament will occur on April 23.

Suu Kyi has yet to issue a statement on the by-election and whether or not it qualifies as “free and fair,” a condition in order for the West to remove further sancitons, along with the release of all political prisoners.

While some nations have argued for all sanctions to be removed, Britain, Burma's former colonial ruler, favours a step-by-step process of lifting sanctions.

Britain’s former role as a Colonial superpower allowed it to rule in Burma from 1824 to 1948, from the Anglo-Burmese Wars through the creation of Burma as a province of British India to the establishment of an independently administered colony, and finally independence, which it achieved in January 1948.

Burma has sometimes been referred to as the Scottish Colony, due to the heavy role played by Scotsmen in colonizing and running the country – one of the most notable being Sir James George Scott, and the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company.

The "Frontier Areas” compose the majority of states within Burma today. They were administered separately by the British, and were united with Burma proper to form its geographic composition today. The “Frontier Areas” were the home of ethnic minorities such as the Chin, the Shan, the Kachin and the Karenni.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 April 2012 14:35 )  

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