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Myanmar's Suu Kyi addresses letdowns after 1 year in office

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/03/2017

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's top leader State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday acknowledged citizen disappointment over the state of her country after her one year in office, saying she is prepared to step down if people end up dissatisfied with her leadership.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy took power amid high expectations after a landslide election victory over a military-supported party and five decades of army rule in the impoverished country. While her government has enacted major reforms, its performance has fallen short of high expectations.

Suu Kyi's speech to the nation came as economic growth has not provided many benefits to the country's poor majority and ethnic minorities seek greater autonomy.

"When I joined politics, I said 'I promise one thing: that I will do my best.' That's all. I can't do better than that," she said in a 25-minute televised speech. "So, if you all think I am not good enough for our country and our people, if someone or some organization can do better than us, we are ready to step down."

But Suu Kyi's party faces few threats from rivals and the largest opposition bloc composed of the military and allies remains generally unpopular.

Myanmar's citizens are also aware that her government is limited by an army-imposed constitution that gives the military veto power over most substantive legislation, making real change difficult.

Suu Kyi also reiterated her government's stance that Myanmar will not accept an international investigating commission to look into communal tensions in the western state of Rakhine, where the Muslim Rohingya minority faces severe discrimination and what the United Nations calls major human rights violations during army sweeps seeking insurgents.

The U.N. Human Rights Council recently called for an independent international body to look into the issue, but Myanmar officials have insisted their own investigations are sufficient.

Suu Kyi's office announced after her speech that five ethnic minority factions agreed to sign a cease-fire agreement her government promoted.

Many of the ethnic groups have been conducting on-again, off-again armed struggle for autonomy since Myanmar — then called Burma — became independent from Britain in 1948.

Several of the larger and more powerful ethnic guerrilla armies have not signed the cease-fire pact.

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