30 Apr 2012

UN head urges Myanmar leaders to unite for change

10:44 pm on 30 April 2012

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Myanmar's president and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to work as partners on a path to change.

On Monday, Mr Ban became the first foreign leader to address the country's parliament, saying the path was "too narrow to turn back" and praised both leaders for their courage and vision.

Mr Ban met with President Thein Sein and will later hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi during his three-day visit, the BBC reports.

He last visited Myanmar in 2009, but was then denied access to Ms Suu Kyi.

In his speech to parliament, Mr Ban praised the "vision, leadership and courage" of both politicians.

"Burma [Myanmar] can meet the challenge of reconciliation and development, but it will take full determination and common leadership and partnership."

Saying the country had reached a critical point, Mr Ban called on the parties to "summon the political will to make lasting change" and to look beyond political differences to address the larger interests of the nation.

Meanwhile, Ms Suu Kyi's party has agreed to end a boycott of parliament and swear an oath to protect the constitution.

The National League for Democracy had been in dispute with the government over the question of the oath. It had wanted to replace the words "safeguard the constitution" with "respect the constitution".

Ms Suu Kyi says the party has backed down as a gesture of respect to the desires of the people.