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Myanmar's Suu Kyi eyes leadership

November 5, 2015

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has said she will come to power if her opposition National League for Democracy wins election. The former political prisoner is barred by the constitution to serve as president.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Image: Reuters/S. Zeya Tun

Suu Kyi said Thursday that if her party wins this Sunday's election she will rule the country despite constitutional barriers set by her opponents.

"I will run the government and we will have a president who will work in accordance with the policies of the NLD (National League for Democracy)," the 70-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient told reporters.

"We have a candidate that is ready to become the president ... I will be above the president," Suu Kyi said, adding that there was nothing in the constitution prohibiting someone from being "above the president."

Under the military-drafted constitution, Suu Kyi is barred from running for the presidency because of her foreign-born children. Critics say the clause was added with her in mind.

But the military will automatically receive a quarter of parliamentary seats - gifted by the same controversial constitutional charter.

Meanwhile, a student leader has been arrested ahead of the weekend vote. The arrest of Lin Htet Naing - known as James - occurred in Insein township in the capital Yangon.

"He faces five charges," his father-in-law Ne Win said Tuesday, without elaborating on the details. He said a court appearance is expected in the next day or two.

More than 50 students have already been detained and awaiting trial near the central town of Letpadan over protests surrounding education reform. Rights groups accuse Myanmar of returning to the heavy-handed tactics that were practiced for decades under the junta, whose military rule officially ended in 2011.

A US official offered the prospect of the easing of economic sanctions and improved ties with Washington, contingent on free and fair elections.

Senior US national security aide Ben Rhodes, who recently returned from a visit to the country, said some electoral irregularities are expected but that a fair vote would benefit the whole country.

"There is a lot of benefit that has not yet come for Burma,” Rhodes said. “If they clear this hurdle well," he added, there would be "a lot of potential benefit down the line."

jar/jr (AFP, Reuters)