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No more political prisoners - Myanmar

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International News | Tuesday July 16 2013 12:44

No more political prisoners - Myanmar

Myanmar president Thein Sein has issued a guarantee that there will be no more prisoners of conscience held in his country's jails by the end of this year.

The promise came after the president, who has led a dramatic shift towards democratisation of Myanmar - formally known as Burma - since taking office in 2011, met Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street during his first visit to the UK.

Cameron welcomed the prospect of free and fair elections in 2015.

He emphasised the importance of completing constitutional changes which will allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - held under house arrest for 15 years after winning elections in 1990 - to take part.

The prime minister also stressed the need to resolve tensions which have led to ethnic conflict in Rakhine state and to protect the rights of the minority Rohingya Muslim community.

Speaking at Chatham House following his meeting, Thein Sein said that thousands of prisoners had been released from Myanmar's jails as a result of new political freedoms, and a committee is working through cases to ensure that no one remains behind bars due to his or her political beliefs and actions.

"We are reviewing all cases. I guarantee to you that by the end of this year, there will be no prisoners of conscience in Myanmar," he said.

Thein Sein said the recent communal violence had "rightly concerned the world" and added: "I promise you that we will take a zero-tolerance approach to any renewed violence and against those who fuel ethnic hatreds."

The president said he hoped his country was entering "a new era of close Anglo-Myanmar relations" and voiced a "keen desire to foster greater ties between the Myanmar and UK armed forces".

Photo / Getty Images

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