President Barack Obama announced earlier today that he’s optimistic about the political change in Myanmar, but that more work is needed to push forward with reforms. The Southeast Asian nation emerged from international exile status four years ago after a civilian government took power and initiated a wave of liberation and progression after nearly five decades of suffering under a military dictatorship, according to BBC.
“Progress has not come as fast as many had hoped when the transition began four years ago,” said President Obama, as quoted by The New York Times. “In some areas there has been a slowdown in reforms, and even some steps backward. Former political prisoners continue to face restrictions. Members of the media have been arrested.”
The military in Myanmar still holds a substantial amount of power, and is currently in charge of handling the nation’s transition to democracy, which was one of the key questions that President Obama said needed to be dealt with. The military also holds more than a fourth of the seats in parliament, giving it the power to veto constitutional amendments.
“One of the main messages that I’ll deliver on this visit is that the government of Myanmar has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all people in the country, and that the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all people should be respected,” the president continued, as quoted by The Washington Times. “That’s the only way reforms can stay on track. That’s the only way that this country is going to realize greater prosperity and its rightful place in the region and the world.”