03 June 2011

McCain warns Myanmar risks Arab-style uprising

YANGON - US SENATOR John McCain warned on Friday that Myanmar could face a Middle East-style revolution if the new army-backed government fails to implement democratic reform and improve human rights.

'The winds of change are now blowing, and they will not be confined to the Arab world,' the senior Republican told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to the military-dominated nation. 'Governments that shun evolutionary reforms now will eventually face revolutionary change later.'

Mr McCain was in Myanmar to assess the new political landscape after the junta handed power to a nominally civilian but army-backed government in March following the country's first election in 20 years.

The November vote, won by the military's political proxies, was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and the exclusion of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest shortly afterwards.

Mr McCain urged the government to ensure the safety of Ms Suu Kyi, who said this week she hoped to soon conduct a political tour around the country that will be a key test of her freedom following her release.

'Aung San Suu Kyi's last attempt to travel freely was marred by violence, and the new government's ability and willingness to prevent a similar outcome this time will be an important test of their desire for change,' Mr McCain said. -- The Straits Times

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