MYANMAR'S opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi announced in Britain that she was prepared to take the helm as the leader of her people, the strongest signal yet she saw herself as someone who could lead her country one day.
Myanmar's then-ruling junta freed the Oxford-educated Nobel Peace Prize laureate from house arrest in 2010, ushering in a period of reform and enabling her to travel abroad for the first time in decades.
Asked by the BBC on Tuesday if she was prepared to lead her people, given the prospect of national elections in 2015, Suu Kyi replied: "If I can lead them in the right way, yes."
Even so, any bid for Myanmar's presidency looks unlikely, since it would require changing a junta-drafted constitution designed to protect the country's still-powerful military.
Now a symbol of non-violent political resistance, Suu Kyi, 67, left her two sons and husband in Britain in 1988 to nurse her dying mother in Myanmar, where she was swept up in pro-democracy protests that the military brutally crushed. She languished under house arrest for much of the next two decades, unable to spend much time with her sons or be with her husband before he died of cancer in 1999.
She was released in November 2010 after an election that installed President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government which has launched a series of dramatic reforms.
These included holding by-elections in April in which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 43 seats in Myanmar's fledgling parliament.
While Thein Sein, a former general, announced on Tuesday a "second wave" of reforms, Suu Kyi was hailed as a hero on her visit in Britain as part of a broader European tour.
Given star treatment on her 67th birthday on Tuesday, she received a standing ovation when she addressed a packed auditorium at the London School of Economics at the start of her emotional comeback to Britain. "It's all of you and people like you that have given me the strength to continue," she said, to whoops and cheers from the audience. "And I suppose I do have a stubborn streak in me."
She then travelled to the city of Oxford, where she read politics, philosophy and economics in the 1960s and lived for many years with her husband, the late academic Michael Aris, and her two sons: Kim, now 35, and Alexander, 39.
Myanmar's constitution, which was ratified after a heavily rigged referendum in 2008, reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for military personnel chosen by the armed forces chief.
It also disqualifies presidential candidates with spouses or children who are citizens of a foreign country. Alexander and Kim became British after the military junta stripped them of Myanmar citizenship in 1989.
Constitutional amendments require the support of 75 per cent of parliament, including at least some military delegates, which even Suu Kyi will struggle to get. "Do we think it can be amended? Yes, we think so, because we think that it's possible to work together with the military to make them understand why we think that this constitution will not move us in a positive direction," she said in London. Reuters
Thursday, June 21, 2012
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