The chief political adviser to Burmese President Thein Sein, Ko Ko Hlaing, told ABC Radio Australia on Monday that the government is serious about free and fair April 1 by-elections, and Aung San Suu Kyi will have the same access as other party leaders to the media.
Ko Ko Hlaing told the news group that Senator John McCain’s remarks in Rangoon on Monday about the possibility of removing U.S. economic sanctions were encouraging.
“The chairman of the National Election Commission already has made some comment that the upcoming elections will be free and fair, because it's very important for Myanmar politics and the main opposition force, the NLD has re-registered as a formal political party and it will compete in the by-election, including its leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”
The Burmese government is “quite serious” on the matter of free and fair elections, he said.
Asked if Suu Kyi would have free and fair access to Burmese media, Ko Ko Hlaing said “Suu Kyi will have equal opportunities and equal chances provided by the government media and also other media.”
Regarding her safety, he said, “Of course, in her previous visits to rural areas Suu Kyi was quite secure and safe, and the government provided a proper security plan for her. So I believe that she will be secure and safe in her campaign. Her constituency is not far away from Yangon [Rangoon] and there will be much popularity in the local audience, and the local authority will make a proper security plan for her.
“I don't think the government will neglect her in security matters, because it's a concern for them also,” he said.
On the cease-fire agreements with ethnic armed groups in Burma and the chances for a long-term peace, he said: “If you study our country's history, our insurgencies have a long history for many decades, so this simply cannot be wiped out overnight. Our strategy for peace is through development. And we have contact with nearly a dozen ethnic armed groups, and we're starting peace talks and with nearly half of them, we have reached initial peace agreements and with some of them, we are now starting political dialogues.”
He said that after political dialogues with individual groups, “We will bring them into Parliament for discussions with the lawmakers. And after that, we'll make a permanent peace agreement in our Parliament. And so, we hope that this peace process will enhance our reform, as well as our rule of law.”
Responding to observers who say the Burmese military is still engaged in clashes with armed groups, Ko Ko Hlaing said: “…even well-disciplined and well-developed army like NATO and the United States army, they've committed abuses, like their urinating on the dead bodies of the Taliban, and also rape cases on the Okinawa marine base.
“…but the Myanmar army has rules and regulations and laws to prosecute the offenders. And we now have a National Human Rights Commission and this commission has arrived in the Kachin area, to study the situation of human rights.”
He said he thought Burma would make progress in human rights. After more cease-fires and peace talks, he said, “There will be no more fighting and no more human rights violations by both sides or their troops.”
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