Senate Minority Leader McConnell Sees ‘Amazing Change’ in Myanmar

BY Daniel Sagalyn  January 27, 2012 at 5:02 PM EDT


One of the Senate’s leading hard-liners on Myanmar, Sen. Mitchell McConnell, R-Ky., told NewsHour Capitol Hill Correspondent Kwame Holman that he is very hopeful about the political reforms that are now underway in that country.

McConnell, who just recently returned from a trip to Myanmar, also known as Burma, said the country was undergoing “amazing change” in such a short amount of time, and that he was “very hopeful” the reforms would continue.

The country has been ruled by military leaders since 1990 when the ruling junta annulled the results of an election. Mitchell has been one of the leading advocates for placing sanctions on the country as a means of forcing it to open up.

In November 2010, elections were held that were generally viewed as flawed. But the new leaders have initiated several reforms. They freed Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, the party which won almost 60 percent of the votes during the election in 1990. Suu Kyi had been under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. She will now be allowed to run for office in elections in April.

The government also has released more than 1,500 political prisoners. Myanmar’s leaders have signed a number of cease-fire agreements with rebels from ethnic minority groups that have been fighting with the government, some for as many as 60 years.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar in November and announced that United States was reestablishing diplomatic relations with the country.

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