Myanmar’s leading opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, and her party, Burma’s National League for Democracy (NLD), are calling for the continuation of Western sanctions against the country. This will be a blow both to the ruling junta and to Western investors hoping to tap into the country’s vast natural resources.
Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President for Global Policy Programs, says Burma's military continues to consolidate its control within the new political system. After the election of Thein Sein, the former Prime Minister and public face of the junta, it became difficult for the NLD to support dropping the sanctions.
“The opposition group is backing targeted sanctions aimed at actors in Burma’s formal economy, who are also its dominant political actors and their cronies, and not ordinary Burmese citizens,” DiMaggio says.
“To ensure that US sanctions against Burma are targeted, the United States should act now to appoint a Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma to better coordinate sanctions implementation via an ongoing research team that maps where and with whom these individuals engage in business.
“Additionally, a US Special Representative should be charged with facilitating expanded engagement with Burma’s military leaders, as well as with a wide range of groups inside the country, including ethnic and opposition groups.”
DiMaggio, who is based in New York, is Director of the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Burma/Myanmar.