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Hint of rift between Burma’s reformers


The first trip abroad in more than two decades by Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appears to have strained her crucial relationship with President Thein Sein. Soon after she returned home on Sunday from Thailand, an adviser to Myanmar’s president criticised her for lacking “transparency” in carrying out her trip and for her comments warning international investors against “reckless optimism” about Myanmar.


“Personally, I really admire her, but I have a doubt,” the adviser, Nay Zin Latt, said in an e-mail. Nay Zin Latt’s comments were the first by one of President Thein Sein’s advisers since the president cancelled a trip to Thailand on Friday. The Thai news media are portraying the cancellation as a reaction to Bangkok’s handling of Suu Kyi’s visit.


The complicated and delicate relationship between the president and Suu Kyi, a newly elected lawmaker, is in some ways the bedrock of the current reform process in Myanmar. Their meeting in August accelerated the changes sweeping the country and helped persuade Suu Kyi to rejoin the political system.


“Most of the improvements in Burma these days are because of the relationship between Thein Sein and Suu Kyi,” said Win Min, a senior researcher at the Vahu Development Institute.


“I’m a little bit worried about their personal relations,” Win Min said. “If this relationship is strained, it could hurt national reconciliation.”


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