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Suu Kyi's party to contest Myanmar election

July 11, 2015

If it wins the November polls, the National League for Democracy aims to change the constitution to allow its iconic leader Suu Kyi to be president. But it faces stiff opposition from the military-dominated parliament.

Myanmar's pro-Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Saw Phoe Kwar

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed on Saturday that her party will participate in national elections in November.

The decision marks the first time in 25 years that the National League for Democracy (NLD) will contest the vote for parliament, an institution still influenced by the country's military leaders.

Earlier in the year, Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi had saidshe wouldn't rule out boycotting the election, warning that President Thein Sein was insincere about making democratic reforms.

But speaking to reporters from her residence in the capital Naypyidaw, Suu Kyi vowed the party would amend the constitution if it won the November 8 polls. The national charter currently bars her from running for the presidency.

"This decision to run in the election was made to continue the unfinished democratization process for the country," she said.

First reliable polls

The elections in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, are being billed as the first legitimate polls in 25 years. The vote will be crucial test for the country's transition to democracy following decades of military rule which ended in 2011.

The NLD won a general election in 1990 while Suu Kyi was under house arrest, but it was prevented from taking office by the military.

The party boycotted the most recent polls in 2010 but Suu Kyi and 44 party members were elected to parliament following a by-election in 2012.

Aung San Suu Kyi visits German capital

Suu Kyi confirmed that the party had "a plan" to ensure it could name a potential candidate for the leadership and that "If the NLD wins...we will amend the constitution."

An uphill battle for NLD

Despite being a national hero, the pro-democracy campaigner is barred from the presidency as her late husband and two sons are British. Her image as a unifying figure has been somewhat tainted by her silence over the plight of Rohingya Muslims, who face persecution and expulsion.

The NLD is expected to make huge gains in the November poll but election officials have admitted the current voter lists are full of inaccuracies.

Last month, the party lost a parliamentary vote aimed at ending the military's effective veto on constitutional change.

Myanmar was ruled by the military for nearly five decades and Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for almost 15 years.

Despite massive political and economic reforms over the past five years, fears are growing that Myanmar might be backsliding on its democratic transition.

mm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)