Suu Kyi urges 'democratic' investment in Myanmar

AFP , Tuesday 26 Jun 2012

Myanmar's pre-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi calls for democratic and economic development during her meeting with the newly-elected French President Francois Hollande

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and French President Francois Hollande attend their joint news conference on the first day of Suu Kyi's three-day visit at the Elysee Palace in Paris June 26, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday called for investment in her country's struggling economy but not at the expense of democratic reforms, as she met with French President Francois Hollande.

"We need democracy as well as economic development," she said, after arriving in Paris for the last leg of a European tour.

"Development cannot be a substitute for democracy, it must be used to strengthen the foundations of democracy, the development of our country politically, socially and economically."

Suu Kyi also said "financial transparency in the extractive industries and in fact business in general" were essential to investment.

She said efforts still needed to be made to convince the Myanmar regime of the need for democratic reforms but stressed that President Thein Sein seemed genuine.

"I believe that the president is sincere and I believe that he is an honest but I cannot speak for everybody in the government," she said.

"I don't think we can say it (reform) is irreversible until such time as the army is committed to that."

Asked about the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Suu Kyi said democratic reform was essential to resolving civil conflicts.

Rakhine, bordering Bangladesh, has been rocked by rioting, arson and a cycle of revenge attacks involving Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya, prompting growing international concern.

Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in southeast Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants by many in Myanmar.

"We will need time to bring true harmony between the Muslims and the Buddhists," she said.

"What is most important at the moment is that we should establish rule of law," she said. "We need to make sure that these citizenship laws are in line with international standards."

"Communal problems are never solved overnight," she said. "It's only when the people have access to justice that they will be more reasonable about resolving communal differences."

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