US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Myanmar’s leaders on Sunday to continue with their programme of democratic reforms, amidst local criticism that he was “too soft” on the administration, led by former military leader Thein Sein.
Concerns regarding media freedom and constitutional reforms remain in the country, which had been under military rule for decades, before the recent moves to democratise the state and the resulting thawing in relations between the west and Myanmar.
“Is everything hunky-dory? No, not yet. Absolutely not,” Mr. Kerry said. “There are still things that need to be done.”
“Next year’s election will absolutely be a benchmark moment for the whole world to be able to assess the direction that Burma is moving in.”
While Myanmar’s state media praised Mr Kerry’s visit, privately owned media, which have only been able to operate freely since 2012, criticised the Secretary of State, reported the New York Times.
“We now feel we have been deceived in this so-called reform process,” U Than Htut Aung, the founder and head of Eleven Media, one of the country’s largest private media companies, said in an interview.
“If the United States does not put enough pressure on Myanmar, media freedoms could be in danger and the 2015 elections might not be free and fair.”
US officials said Mr Kerry raised concerns regarding the treatment of the Rohingya people in the east of the country, who have been targeted by radical Buddhists and are not accepted as Burmese citizens by the state.