New democratic government will make peace its top priority, says Aung San Suu Kyi

“Our government will be based on a policy of national reconciliation,” promised veteran democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi in January. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a historic victory in November. She promised to strive to expand negotiations with the country’s many ethnic minority guerrilla groups amid long-running conflicts.

Myanmar’s shaky transition to democracy, following a military junta between 1962-2011, has left the army with sweeping powers over border regions. This limits the government’s ability to broker a lasting ceasefire, said Myra Dahgaypaw, a Burmese refugee who works as a policy analyst for the US Campaign for Burma.

“I believe she wants to bring about peace, and that she understands the suffering of the people,” Dahgaypaw said. “But I’m doubtful that she can do it, unless she’s given power over the military.”

That would take a “miracle”, Dahgaypaw said. In the meantime, she believes it is up to the international community to keep pressing for an end to conflict.

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten