Aung San Suu Kyi's planned debut in Burma's parliament next week could be shelved amid a standoff between her party and the government over one word used in the swearing-in oath for new lawmakers.
Newly-elected MPs from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party see the oath in its present form as a potential hurdle in plans to make an impact in a legislature dominated by the military, and refuse to sit in the chambers until it is changed.
Top NLD official Nyan Win travelled to the administrative capital, Naypyidaw, on Thursday to try to convince election officials and legislators to change the vow from "safeguard the constitution" to "respect the constitution" but, it appears, without success.
The NLD's demand puts it on a collision course with other lawmakers and the reform-minded former generals in government, who want Aung San Suu Kyi in parliament to boost its credibility, but may not give in easily to its demand. The current lower house session is due to resume on Monday, with or without the new NLD MPs.
"The chairman of the Election Tribunal explained to me … this sort of oath has to be taken by parliamentarians at all parliaments across the world," Nyan Win said after his visit to Naypyidaw. He said he would convey the message to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD would likely make an announcement soon about its next step.
Earlier on Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi had played down the standoff, expecting the government, for the good of democracy, to bow to her party's demands.