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Myanmar on Road to Democracy?

President Benigno S. Aquino III said he is convinced that Myanmar is serious in its march towards democracy as manifested by the recent actions of its leadership.

Interviewed by the Philippine media at the Sofitel hotel here on Tuesday evening, the President said Myanmar should be rewarded for its actions and that the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should assist Myanmar in its journey towards democracy.

“I think we have seen ample evidence that there is intense dedication for increasing democratization in that country. Now there is an opening given by the rulers of Myanmar. There will be changes,” the President stressed when asked by reporters on the Myanmar issue.

The President likened the current changes in Myanmar, particularly its recent by-election, to the transformation in the former Eastern Bloc when it opted to return to democracy a few decades ago.

“So that tells us that we should be helping them, share our experiences, share our resources, share our knowledge, ease their transition into democracy and make that democracy work for them also so that it takes root, and again, it seems it becomes more inclusive then there’s more stability to the benefit of all,” he said.

There should be tangible reward so that Myanmar continues on that route, the President said, adding that he has personally congratulated President Thein Sein on the conduct of the by-elections.

“We’d want to encourage them, they promote their stability and improve their whole region’s stability and it replaces the basis for the improvement of living standards at least in the entire region. We can all concentrate on trade because it becomes an inclusive process which is one of our advocacies.”

The leaders of the ASEAN meeting in the 20th ASEAN Summit here agreed to come up with a common position asking the international community to lift all the sanctions imposed on Myanmar following its historic parliamentary by-vote.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the chairman of the 20th ASEAN Summit, said during the Plenary Session Tuesday that many ASEAN leaders agreed to support a group position calling for the removal of sanctions imposed on Myanmar by the international community.

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