Burma issuing journalists with visas is a big step forward

TV News cameraman Sean Swan waits for a Burmese visa in the embassy in Bangkok Photo: ITV News

ITV News cameraman Sean Swan waits patiently for a Burmese visa in the embassy in Bangkok.

Five hours ago, this place was packed with Western tourists prepared to wade through the red tape necessary to get into what has been for years one of the world's most reclusive countries.

Our wait for journalists' visas may be protracted but the fact the Burmese are issuing them at all is a big step forward.

We are getting them to cover Sunday's by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi and 46 colleagues from her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) are standing.

Burma's rulers, mainly army generals wearing civilian suits, haven't liked elections in the past.

In 1990, the NLD won a landslide only to be banned and have it's iconic figurehead Miss Suu Kyi placed under house arrest for most of the last twenty years.