Canada announces $44M for democratic reform in Burma

Canada will provide $44 million to support democratic reform initiatives in Burma as the country transitions into its first civilian government in more than 50 years.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion announced the funding via teleconference from Burma on Thursday morning, saying the money will go towards strengthening accountability through data analysis and better government management as well as helping female owners of small businesses to access credit and new technologies.

“Canada wants Myanmar to succeed,” Dion said. “They will need the support of the international community and they will certainly have the support of the government of Canada.”

Burma’s new president, Htin Kyaw, was sworn in last week and quickly announced that long-time democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi would be his state counsellor, a position similar to prime minister.

A military dictatorship ran the country from 1962 up to 2011, when the country held its first election but elected the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

In November 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the election but she was barred from taking power by a new constitution that said leaders cannot have family members who owe allegiance to a foreign government.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British citizens. It’s widely believed that she’ll be the one really calling the shots in the new government.

Dion spoke briefly about the situation, saying the country will need to find unique solutions that work for it as it adjusts to democratic governance.

“I think it’s a very odd situation but it’s not the only odd situation they are in,” he said.

It’s not clear whether any of the $44 million announced Thursday will go towards promoting gender parity in the political system.

Source: Ipolitics

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