Myanmar's Suu Kyi seeks global support for charter change

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 3:15am


Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the international community to support her campaign to change a military-drafted constitution that bars her from becoming president, and help prepare "a fair playing ground" for elections next year.

The former political prisoner has been campaigning to amend the charter since she became a member of parliament two years ago.

The 2008 constitution blocks anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country - a clause widely believed to be targeted at Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British.

In a speech to Nepal's parliament on Saturday, the Nobel laureate said she wanted to participate in "genuine democratic elections, not just free but fair".

"Fair elections mean a fair playing ground," she added, explaining her campaign to change Myanmar's charter, which also reserves a quarter of seats in parliament for unelected military personnel.

"It is very important that all our friends from all over the world keep aware of the developments in Burma and aware of the fact there are those who are trying to divert attention from genuine political needs."

Suu Kyi, 68, was released from years of house arrest in 2010, and a quasi-civilian government led by former general Thein Sein has since pushed reforms that have ended sanctions and overturned Myanmar's status as a global pariah.

Parliamentary elections due to be held next year are seen as a definitive test of whether the military is willing to loosen its grip on power.

The president is selected by the legislature and Suu Kyi has declared her ambition to lead the country.

She has intensified her campaign to amend the constitution, with her National League for Democracy party launching a petition last month seeking changes to the charter despite warnings from electoral officials.

The politician is currently on a state visit to Nepal and was to be awarded the country's top peace prize.

Suu Kyi first visited the country as a teenager in 1962, when her mother was ambassador to India and Nepal.

She then moved to Kathmandu in 1973 with her husband, British scholar Michael Aris, and their baby boy Alexander, and taught English at a Buddhist school for several months.