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MILITARY

Suu Kyi: We Want to Work with the Military

The NLD leader has called on the military to allow constitutional change and respect the results of November’s elections.


RANGOON— Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the military to cooperate with the people of Burma by allowing constitutional change and respecting the results of November’s general elections.

While admitting that there was a gulf between the military and her National League for Democracy (NLD) in their estimation of the junta-drafted 2008 Constitution, Suu Kyi said that both yearned for a “bright and stable democratic federal Union” during a campaign speech aired on state television on Monday evening.

“We want to wipe out suspicion between the NLD and the military, to collaborate with mutual respect for issues of the Union and democracy,” she said. “Regarding constitutional amendments, the NLD wants to work with the military without upsetting the country’s stability and without concerning people.”

Since its return to mainstream politics in 2012, Suu Kyi’s party has lobbied to reform the controversial charter, which bars the opposition leader from assuming the presidency, reserves a quarter of seats for the military in Union and regional parliaments and gives the military an effective veto over constitutional amendments.

During her 20-minute speech, Suu Kyi assured viewers that her party was capable of effectively heading the government, in response to criticism that the party was ill equipped to lead the nation after 27 years of harassment and oppression.

“I dare to say we have that ability,” she said. “[To lead], you need to know what should be done and what should not be done. Regarding to what should not be done, we’ve learned a lot from Burma’s transformation what was once the brightest star of Asia to an uncharted planet. For what should be done, we have already learned from the people.”

Suu Kyi rebuked criticism for the NLD’s decision to field candidates in ethnic minority constituencies across the country, arguing it was necessary to form a central government that “represents Union spirit and unity” in order to introduce a federal system of government that devolved more power to ethnic communities.

She said that whoever forms government early next year would work for political dialogue with ethnic armed groups, as it was likely the current government would finalize a nationwide ceasefire agreement before the election.

“If the people are willing, the NLD is ready to take this duty,” Suu Kyi said.