Burma’s major ethnic political parties called on Sunday for Western nations to lift economic sanctions on the country as its new parliament prepares to convene for the first time, according to AFP.

A joint declaration said that sanctions put into effect by the United States and European countries are reason for countless troubles in the important areas of trade, investment and modern technologies for the progress of ethnic regions.

The declaration was signed by the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), the Chin National Party (CNP), the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) and the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP).

The said ethnic parties collectively requested that the United States and European countries lift sanctions.

All five parties won seats in Burma’s controversial elections last November. The SNDP achieved unexpected success among ethnic parties, as it won 57 seats in parliament and regional legislatures to convene on Jan 31.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also wishes to lift sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe against its member Burma/Myanmar after th elections and the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it said Sunday.

As reported by Reuters, ASEAN will keep pushing Burma to build on the release of Suu Kyi by including her in the political system, but countries which uphold sanctions against the country should recognize progress made so far, said Marty Natalegawa, foreign minister of Indonesia and ASEAN chair this year.

Many foreign governments have used sanctions on Burma to transform the regime’s unacceptable behavior in the areas of human rights. The sanctions aim to stop the junta obstructing the aspirations of its own people, and force the junta to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue to reconcile the political stalemate in Burma.

The sanctions provide effective tools to advance the dialogue process. All foreign investments help finance the Burmese junta, which spent over 40 percent of national budget to develop and modernize the armed forces. Obviously, using those armed forces, the military regime has been mistreating its own citizens.

According to democratic dissidents, the impact of sanctions on the population is small because foreign investments in Burma focus on the extraction of natural resources, especially gas and oil. Investment in natural resources extraction cannot cause severe effects in terms of creating employment and small business opportunities within the country’s general economy.

Anyhow, people inside and outside of Burma are interested in Mr. Marty Natalegawa’s goodwill message by including Aung San Suu Kyi in the incoming political system in this military-run nation. Putting her in the contemporary political structure will also pave the way to lifting the sanctions. However, it may depend upon the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), led by Prime Minister Thein Sein

The USDP won the majority of 882 parliamentary seats amid allegations of fraud and intimidation in November, plus the exclusion of opposition leader Suu Kyi. The USDP is followed by the National Unity Party (NUP) with 64 seats, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) with 57 seats, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party with 35 seats, National Democratic Force (NDF) and the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) each with 16 at three levels of parliament.

So, all the parties that will participate in the new parliament ought to consider the suggestion of Natalegawa if they really want to move the economic sanctions on Burma. Indonesia, chair of ASEAN in 2011, wants progress this year after the topic was among the first to be discussed at the three-day meeting, Natalegawa told Reuters.

Regional ASEAN summits, designed at building an economic community by 2015 that would include some 500 million people and some of the world’s fastest growing economies, have often been put in the shadow by controversy over the Burmese military junta.

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