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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

World

Suu Kyi returns to Myanmar after European tour
AFP
Yangon, Burma, June 30, 2012
First Published: 10:25 IST(30/6/2012)
Last Updated: 10:33 IST(30/6/2012)

Hundreds of cheering supporters welcomed democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi back to Myanmar on Saturday after her triumphant five-nation European tour.

The opposition leader arrived in Yangon after an exhausting two-week visit to Europe where she was given a reception normally reserved for heads of state and toasted for her peaceful resistance to dictatorship.

Suu Kyi, 67, will now prepare for the re-opening of Myanmar's fledgling parliament in Naypyidaw on Wednesday when she will take her place – alongside her National League for Democracy (NLD) colleagues – as an elected MP for the first time.

On her first visit to Europe in more than two decades the Nobel Peace laureate – who spent almost two decades under house arrest – visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and France.

She delivered a long delayed Nobel lecture, was honoured at her alma mater Oxford University, met pop stars and politicians and charmed the European public with speeches on her decades of struggle and her hopes for Myanmar.

Speaking to AFP on Thursday in Paris she said she was ready to lead the country if required and pledged to work towards embedding reforms ahead of scheduled 2015 national elections.

She also expressed delight at her reception and the support the Myanmar democracy campaign has garnered in Europe over the years.

"So many people from different parts of the world seem to be aware of what we have been struggling for in Burma," she said. "I felt such a tremendous sense of solidarity with us. That has been a surprise."

The parliamentary session is expected to discuss recent deadly communal violence which flared in western Myanmar, among other issues, and marks the NLD's entry into mainstream political institutions in the country.

The party was repressed for years by the army junta that ruled Myanmar for decades, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has made a number of changes since it took office last year.

Nonetheless the military still hold a quarter of the seats in parliament.


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