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15 Pope Aung San Suu Kyix

Pope welcomes Aung San Suu Kyi, calls for inter-religious dialogue in Burma

Burmese opposition leader and freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi, who had an audience with Pope Francis today, fears for 2015 elections in her country

“The Pope said he would pray for Myanmar, for inter-religious dialogue in the country,” Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said after the meeting. “He also said the Church would be at the service of everyone in Myanmar without discriminating.”

There was also ‘a great feeling of harmony and accord’ during the Holy Father’s face-to-face meeting with this ‘symbolic figure of the Asian world,’ from Burma/Myanmar, according to Fr Lombardi.

Dr Suu Kyi was in Italy this weekend visiting the Prime Minister and President, and cities that awarded her honours when she was placed under house arrest between 1989 and 2010. Last night at ceremony last night in Rome’s City Hall, she picked up her honorary citizenship of Rome that was originally awarded in 1994. She is to also receive honorary citizenship of Bologna.

Last night, in front of Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino and Italian footballing legend Roberto Baggio, Dr Suu Kyi spoke about her memories of visiting the city and its gelato during her studies at Oxford University 40 years earlier.

She then claimed that she had done nothing special, and that she made ‘choices, not sacrifices’ in her political career.

Aung San Suu Kyi led the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar during and after the military junta in 1988, and her National League of Democracy party were prevented from taking over the country in 1990. During her period of house arrest from 1989 and 2010, Dr Suu Kyi was granted several honours including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, both finally awarded in 2012.

According to the Burmese opposition leader, if changes are not made to the Constitution, the Presidential elections in Myanmar in 2015 will not be democratic. Myanmar is to go to the polls for parliamentary elections that year and the vote will renew the entire parliament which will then elect a head of state.

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