I want to be the President, says Myanmar`s Suu Kyi

Last Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 20:18

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar): Mynamar`s opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday declared her intention to run for President in 2015 and sought amendment to the country`s Constitution under which she is not eligible to contest.

"I want to run for president and I`m quite frank about it," the veteran democracy activist said at a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) being held here.

"If I pretend I did not want to be president, I would not be honest and I would rather be honest with my people than otherwise.

"You really don`t run for the President because President is not elected directly, but for me to be eligible for the post of the President the Constitution will have to be amended," the 67-year-old said.

Asked if she is confident that constitution will be amended in the country, Chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Suu Kyi said, "I don`t believe in indulging in optimism. Let me put it in this way, hope has to be backed by endeavour. So rather than be optimistic or hoping that the constitution will be amended, we are going to work for the constitution to be amended".

The session themed `Myanmar: What Future?` also saw participation of Union Minister, Office of the President of Myanmar Soe Thane.

Thane was of the view that amending the constitution is always possible, although Suu Kyi described the document passed in 2008 as "the most difficult constitution in the world to amend".

The current constitution blocks anyone whose spouses or children are overseas citizens from being appointed by parliament for the top job.

Suu Kyi`s two sons with her late husband Michael Aris are British and the clause is widely believed to be targeted at the Nobel laureate, who was educated in India.

Thane stressed that the political and economic changes in Myanmar are "irreversible", but asked for more patience from the people of Myanmar and the international community.

The process started only in 2010. "We need time to loosen, to untie the rope [that had bound the country] for 60 years," he said.

Asked about protection for Myanmar`s minorities, including the Rohingya Muslims who have recently suffered attacks by elements from the majority community, Thane said the issue is complex and should be discussed by a commission.

He said the government is committed to protecting the security of all citizens.
Responding to criticism that she has not done enough for the Rohingyas, Suu Kyi said, "At the moment, nobody is very satisfied with me because I do not take sides... I have not been silent. It`s just that [the critics] are not hearing what they want to hear from me".

She reiterated her position that the rule of law must prevail, and that means investigating whether the people accorded citizenship under the 1982 citizenship law have indeed been granted citizenship.

Also, she called for a re-examination of the law to ensure it complies with international norms.

The wide-ranging debate touched on many aspects of what is happening in Myanmar politically, socially and economically, including the issue of political prisoners, holding accountable those who misruled the country and committed illegal acts, and ensuring that the fruits of reform are shared with everyone, particularly the 70 per cent of the population who live in the countryside.

Meanwhile, President Thein Sein called for increased investment in the country as it continues on its way toward democratic reform.

"We are working hard to move from military rule to democracy," said the President. "We are also working hard to reform the economy away from a centralised economy to one based on a free economy".

He urged increased investment in Myanmar through public and private enterprises, but warned that companies "be practical and steer clear of obstruction".

Over 1,000 participants from 55 countries are taking part in the WEF on East Asia, held for the first time here.

The meeting saw over 100 public figures representing 15 countries, including heads of state or government from Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

More than 550 business leaders, over 60 global growth companies and nearly 300 young leaders from the Forum`s Young global leaders together with other members of civil society, academia and media also participated in the event.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 15:44

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