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Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi thanked Canada and other countries for maintaining sanctions on Burma, saying they were aiding its transition to democracy.
“Canada has helped us greatly with regard to our movement towards democracy,” she said in a speech by video link to Carleton University on Wednesday, according to the Canadian Press.
She added that Burma’s new civilian leaders were responding to the economic pressure from Canada and other western powers by agreeing further reforms.
But she urged the supporters of reform to remain vigilant as the country negotiates a dramatic transition following the end of nearly a half century of outright military rule last year.
“The way in which you can continue to help us is to keep up your awareness of what is happening in Burma,” said Suu Kyi, an international symbol of peaceful democratic protest following years of house arrest.
“Don’t be too optimistic. Don’t be too pessimistic. Try to see things as they are and try to keep contact with the ordinary people of Burma.”
Suu Kyi, whose party boycotted a 2010 election because it thought the rules were unfair, is standing for a seat in parliament for the first time.
The 2010 vote, which swept the army’s political allies to power, was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and intimidation.
The opposition cannot threaten the ruling party’s majority even if it takes all 48 available seats in the by-elections to be held 1 April, but a Suu Kyi win would lend legitimacy to the fledgling parliament.