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YANGON - Aung San Suu Kyi's party on Sunday said it will postpone its parliamentary debut next week, in the first sign of discord between Myanmar's newly-elected opposition and reformist government.
The democracy icon and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) will not travel to the capital Naypyidaw to enter parliament on Monday, party spokesman Ohn Kyaing told AFP, following a dispute over the swearing-in oath.
"We are not boycotting, but we are just waiting for the right time to go," said Suu Kyi, who won her first-ever seat in parliament in landmark April 1 by-elections, after a meeting on the issue in Yangon.
The NLD has balked at the wording of the oath, which requires them to protect a constitution that was drawn up by the country's former junta. Authorities have rejected the party's appeal to change the wording of the oath from "safeguard" to "respect" the constitution and a letter to the office of Myanmar's reformist President Thein Sein on the issue was sent too late for the row to be resolved before the next session of parliament begins on Monday.
The NLD, which boycotted a controversial 2010 election, agreed to rejoin the political mainstream last year after authorities changed a similar phrase in party registration documents.
Suu Kyi has said one of her priorities as a politician is to push for an amendment of the 2008 constitution, under which one quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for unelected military officials.
The spat casts a shadow over a rapid thawing in relations between long-isolated Myanmar and the international community since the Nobel Peace Prize winner and her party achieved a decisive win in the April 1 polls. Suu Kyi, who was locked up for most of the last two decades, has shown increased confidence in the regime in recent weeks, calling for European Union sanctions to be suspended and planning her first international trip in 24 years.
Thein Sein is currently on a visit to Japan and on Saturday held talks with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who announced Tokyo had agreed to waive Myanmar's $3.7 billion debt and resume suspended financial assistance.
During the meeting, Thein Sein said Myanmar will continue pursuing more reforms, including "focusing on further democratization", according to a Japanese official present. The five day trip, which began on Friday, includes a summit of Japan and five Mekong Delta nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Myanmar, which languished for decades under a repressive junta, has announced a series of reforms since a civilian, but military-backed, government to power took power last year. The regime has freed hundreds of political prisoners, welcomed Suu Kyi's party back into mainstream politics and signed tentative peace deals with a number of rebel groups, although fighting still rages in the far north.
The NLD became the main opposition force when it secured 43 of the 44 seats it contested in this month's elections, which were largely praised as a step towards democracy by the international community.
Observers say the regime needs Suu Kyi in parliament to bolster the legitimacy of its political system as Western nations move to ease sanctions. European Union diplomats told AFP Thursday that the 27-nation bloc had reached an agreement in principle to suspend all sanctions, except an arms embargo, for a year.