NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday declared her intention to run for president, calling for all of the country’s people to share the fruits of its dramatic reforms.
Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in the capital Naypyidaw, the Nobel Peace laureate appealed for the amendment of the military-drafted constitution, which prevents her from leading the country.
“I want to run for president and I’m quite frank about it,” the veteran democracy activist told delegates, as she sets her sights on elections due to be held in 2015.
“If I pretended that I didn’t want to be president I wouldn’t be honest,” she added.
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.
Changing certain parts of the text requires the support of more than 75 percent of the members of the fledgling parliament, one quarter of whom are unelected military officials, she noted.
“This constitution is said by experts to be the most difficult constitution in the world to amend. So we must start by amending the requirements for amendments,” Suu Kyi said.
President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government has surprised the world since coming to power two years ago with dramatic political and economic changes that have led to the lifting of most Western sanctions.
Hundreds of political prisoners have been freed, democracy champion Suu Kyi has been welcomed into a new parliament and tentative ceasefires have been reached in the country’s multiple ethnic civil wars.
Suu Kyi, who was herself locked up by the former junta for a total of 15 years, remains hugely popular in Myanmar and her National League for Democracy party is widely expected to win the elections if they are free and fair.
The opposition leader called for all of the Myanmar people to be included in the reform process, warning that otherwise the changes could be jeopardized.
“If the people feel that they’re included in this reform process then it will not be reversible – or at least it will not be easily reversible,” she said.
“But if there are too many people who feel excluded then the dangers of a reversal of the situation would be very great,” Suu Kyi added.
Some 900 delegates from more than 50 countries are gathered in the capital Naypyidaw for the three-day forum—a regional edition of the annual gathering of business and political luminaries in the Swiss resort of Davos.