Burmaby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2015-11-17
McCONNELL. Mr. President, on several occasions this year I have
come to the floor and noted that this year's Burmese election would
represent a crucial test for the country's path to political reform.
The lead-up to this November's election was marked by a number of
discouraging developments: the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya
population and the defeat of commonsense constitutional reform
proposals back in the summer. Yet, despite these setbacks, I am pleased
to note that last week's election in Burma seems to have been a
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my friend Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party for their overwhelming victory. It was a truly remarkable achievement. At the same time, I would also like to commend Burmese President Thein Sein for his gracious remarks following the NLD victory and for his commitment to abide by the results of the election. The same should be said of Burma's commander in chief. He also appears to have accepted the results of the election and has pledged to support the NLD during the transition.
In many ways, the key test for a young democracy is not the first election but the first election in which there is a transfer of power from the ruling power to the opposition. The transfer of authority in Burma will therefore be pivotal. Accordingly, I would urge both the President and the commander in chief to continue on the positive course they have charted since the election and to meet with Daw Suu in the coming days to map out an appropriate transition plan.
The NLD now has a mandate to govern and has sufficient strength in Parliament to choose a President and one [[Page S7974]] of the two Vice Presidents, although Daw Suu herself is prohibited from these positions. The prohibition itself reflects one of the many challenges that lie ahead. Others include addressing the problem of the military's quota of seats in the Parliament, promoting reconciliation among ethnic groups, and healing the divide among those of differing religious faiths.
For now, it is worth acknowledging the good news last week in Burma. The road to bring the bilateral relationship to where it stands today has been a long one indeed. The transition of power has the potential to be a watershed in Burma history. It provides an opportunity to reinvigorate the reform effort in that country.