Myanmar’s Suu Kyi ‘optimistic’ right after historic talks with ex-enemy

YANGON Aung San Suu Kyi is good about Myanmar’s future soon after meeting the former dictator who detained her for 15 years, an aide mentioned on Saturday following her latest overture to erstwhile enemies prior to an historic energy shift.

Suu Kyi met secretly on Friday with the former strongman Than Shwe, a psychological warfare specialist turned junta supremo, who faded from the public eye soon after transferring energy to a reformist, quasi-civilian government in 2011.

The two have been at odds for two decades as Suu Kyi led a non-violent struggle against the army rule below which Myanmar was a pariah and kleptocracy isolated by the West. Than Shwe kept Suu Kyi below property arrest for most of his 19 years in energy.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) won final month’s general election, trouncing a ruling celebration formed by Than Shwe. That outcome was interpreted as each an NLD public mandate and a protest vote against the military’s political role.

“Aung San Suu Kyi told us that U Than Shwe mentioned to her he was in favor of democracy taking root in Myanmar and also recognized her activities and achievements,” Win Htein, a senior NLD leader, told Reuters. U is a Burmese-language honorific.

“They talked about laying a solid foundation for democracy.”

The meeting comes amid a flurry of peacemaking moves by the Nobel laureate towards the heavyweights of a junta that persecuted her movement and saw the former British colony crumble beneath trade embargoes and financial mismanagement.

Suu Kyi met Wednesday with Than Shwe’s protege, Min Aung Hlaing, who heads a military the NLD need to function with in a power-sharing government subsequent year.

The junta wrote a constitution that enshrines roles for the military in the executive and legislative branches, extensively seen as safeguards for the its vast organization interests. Any NLD attempts to adjust that quickly could face resistance.

Suu Kyi met Than Shwe due to “her belief in his influence on the government and the Tatmadaw (military),” Win Htein mentioned.

That view is shared by many in Myanmar, who have long believed Than Shwe was either dead or nonetheless running the nation from behind the scenes.

Neither Than Shwe nor his inner circle have publicly revealed why they chose to dissolve the world’s longest operating military regime and enable political and economic liberalization.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun Writing by Martin Petty Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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