Myanmar leader gives first New Year address

Myanmar President Thein Sein on Tuesday called for "mutual trust" between the ruling regime and the people in his first New Year address since taking power and ushering in sweeping reforms.

He pledged a new drive to communicate more directly with the nation in a radio speech he said aimed to "bridge the gap" between the authorities and the public.

"The most important ingredient for the success of Myanmar's democratic transition is the mutual trust between the government and the people," he said.

Thein Sein, who took the helm of a quasi-civilian regime in 2011, said the world had been "amazed" by the nation's progress last year in the former junta-ruled country.

Western sanctions against the former pariah state began to be dismantled in 2012 in response to reforms, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

But the former general warned that the swift pace of change should not encourage unrealistic expectations from a public eager for further opening up after decades of military rule.

"What the esteemed people and our government need to be conscious of is the gap between the demands of the people and the capacity of our government," he said, adding the country still had "many aspects to reform".

Thein Sein last week set his sights on graft in a televised address in Naypyidaw, saying democratic developments in the nation depended on good governance.

US President Barack Obama praised Myanmar's "remarkable" reforms during a landmark visit to the country in November, but warned "the flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished".

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