The Myanmar government on Friday organized a forum on transition to democracy, with its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, calling for "practical" ways to steer the country along the challenging path towards becoming a democratic nation after suffering decades of military rule.
Speaking at the opening session of a forum on Myanmar's democratic transition held in the capital Napyitaw, Suu Kyi highlighted the importance of achieving peace and public participation in the country's transition, saying only a democratically elected government could move the country towards a democratic goal.
The three-day forum, organized by the Ministry of Information with support from international and local partners, brings together more than 30 speakers from Myanmar and abroad, and is attended by about 200 people including activists, businesspeople, civil society leaders, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers and government officials, and diplomats.
The forum, covering topics such as the transition from military to civilian rule, from a centralized to market economy, and from war to peace, is the first of its kind to be held since Suu Kyi's administration assumed authority in April last year, after her party's landslide victory in the 2015 general election.
Suu Kyi, who is now leading Myanmar's first genuine civilian government, said in her speech that achieving peace is "the most important" task for her government in managing through the democratic transition.
She said she "disagrees" with those who say economic development should be prioritized over peace to bring prosperity to the people, although development is necessary for lasting peace.
"Without peace there will be no sustainable development and the same is true that without the development, peace would not be lasting. We shall work to achieve both at the same time," she said.
Myanmar has been marred by insurgencies involving ethnic minorities living in its north, east and southern frontier areas bordering China and Thailand.
A year after Suu Kyi's government came to power, the business community has started expressing frustration over the relatively slow economic development.
The new government has been criticized for placing priority on ending the decades-long conflict over managing the economy with clear policies creating conducive environments for foreign investments.
Suu Kyi in her speech said the transition to democracy is always a simple but challenging process and there are many lessons for Myanmar to be learned from the experience of other countries that went through similar reforms.
"I'd like to urge all joining this forum to explore the best ways and means to get through this very simple but highly challenging path of transition to democracy for our country," she added.