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Aung San Suu Kyi attends Myanmar military parade

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends the country's annual military parade for the first time.

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has joined the country's generals at an annual military parade for the first time ever in the capital Naypyidaw.

Her appearance at the Armed Forces Day parade comes as President Thein Sein is being urged to deal with deadly Buddhist-Muslim violence that has left 40 people dead in the past week.

Speaking to about 6,000 troops the country's army chief, senior general Min Aung Hlaing, reaffirmed the military's involvement in politics.

He said the military performs a "role in the national politics in accordance with the people's desire when the nation faces ethnic conflicts or political struggles."

"We will keep on marching to strengthen the democratic path wished by the people," he said.

Just hours after the parade, a mosque and Muslim homes were destroyed by hundreds of people in the town of Zeegone about 150 kilometres north of the country's main city Yangon, according to police and local residents.

"Soldiers and police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the mob," a resident said.

Front-row seat

Activists have expressed disappointment Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who was under house-arrest for 15 years by the former junta, has remained largely silent about several episodes of sectarian bloodshed since last year.

Ms Suu Kyi was given a front row seat for the parade, which involved thousands of troops as well as military vehicles rolling through the regime's purpose-built capital as fighter jets soared overhead.
The pro-democracy leader was seen chatting with generals including Zaw Win, deputy minister for border affairs.

Ms Suu Kyi's relationship with the army has come under scrutiny as she prepares for elections in 2015, and her presence at the parade will be seen as a sign of warming ties with the military.

A spokesman for her National League for Democracy party said when asked why Ms Suu Kyi chose to watch the parade: "She attended as she was invited."

Suu Kyi's father, the country's late independence hero Aung San, created the army and led the struggle against British colonial rule.

In January Suu Kyi admitted she remained "fond" of the military, despite allegations it has committed rights abuses in Myanmar's ethnic conflicts, including rape and torture in northern Kachin State.

A controversial 2008 constitution crafted by the former junta - currently being reviewed by parliament - reserves 25 per cent of parliamentary seats for armed forces personnel.


Posted by hnm on Thursday, March 28, 2013. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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