Suu Kyi hopeful on ending Myanmar presidency ban
WASHINGTON—Myanmar opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi has voiced confidence that the country’s powerful military will support changes to the constitution that would allow her to become president.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent most of two decades under house arrest until recent reforms, said she was hopeful that parliament will approve constitutional revisions even though the army controls a vital number of seats.
“I am not unduly worried by it. I think that the members of our military, like the rest of our nation, would like to see Burma a happier, stronger, more harmonious country,” she said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.
“Because of that, I do not rule out the possibility of amendment through negotiated compromise,” Suu Kyi said Friday at the East-West Center on a visit to the US Pacific state of Hawaii.
President Thein Sein, a former general, surprised even critics by launching a slew of reforms after taking office in 2011 — including freeing political prisoners, easing censorship and permitting Suu Kyi to enter parliament.
Thein Sein has said he would accept Suu Kyi as president if her National League for Democracy wins the next elections in 2015, but some activists question whether hardliners would be willing to let the army leave power.
Under the 2008 constitution, the presidency cannot be held by anyone whose spouse or children hold foreign nationality. Suu Kyi was married to the late British academic Michael Aris, with whom she has two children.
“I do not think it is right for any constitution to be written with anybody in mind — whether it is written to keep anybody in office for life, or whether it is written with the intention of keeping anybody out of office for life,” said Suu Kyi, who has previously voiced willingness to be president.
“It’s just not acceptable, it’s not democratic, and it’s not what a constitution is all about,” she said.
Despite her political positions, Suu Kyi enjoys respect among some officers, as her father Aung San created the army and led the struggle against British colonial rule.
Suu Kyi was visiting Hawaii as part of an initiative by the US state to share its values. In a scene that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, Suu Kyi spoke fondly about dining with friends on Honolulu’s sun-kissed Waikiki beach.