After the wide loss of Democrats in the midterm elections, President Obama has shifted his focus to foreign policy. In his recent trip to Asia, the president spent three days in Myanmar, meeting with national leaders and hoping to finally get the struggling democracy-to-be on its feet.
According to The Washington Post, this is Obama’s first time traveling to Myanmar since his groundbreaking visit in 2012, when he became the first American president to visit the Southeast Asian country.
During his stop in Myanmar, Obama met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s democratic movement and the National League for Democracy (NLD) political party.
According to ABC News, President Obama and Suu Kyi met at her home in Yangon on Thursday, Nov. 13, where they spoke in private and held a joint press conference. The two leaders discussed strategies on how to continue the democratization of Myanmar.
According to The Washington Post, the government in Myanmar has renewed a strict crackdown against political opposition and journalists. Human rights issues that have plagued the nation for decades still have yet to be sorted out – most notably, the widespread violence against the Rohingya Muslims.
In the weeks leading up to her meeting with President Obama, Suu Kyi voiced her disappointment in the U.S.’s lack of involvement in helping the Southeast Asian nation complete its shift towards democracy.
According to ABC, Suu Kyi asked at a conference last week, “What significant reforms have been taken within the last 24 months?” She added that “this is something that the United States needs to think about as well.”
Suu Kyi has additionally accused Americans of being “overly optimistic” that the government of Myanmar is going to willingly comply with the demands of the people and adopt a democratic mindset.
President Obama also met with Myanmar’s President, Thein Sein, at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, hoping to press the leader to continue democratization on his end.
Before his visit with both leaders, many questioned whether or not President Obama would push the government of Myanmar to amend its constitution, and weaken the restrictions concerning who can run for president.
ABC reported that the democratic Suu Kyi is technically ineligible to run because Myanmar’s laws prohibits any person with foreign spouses or children from holding public office. Suu Kyi’s husband and son are both British citizens, therefore making her ineligible despite her widespread popularity among the people of Myanmar.
Editor’s Note: Information from ABC, the BBC and The Washington Post was used in this report.