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Aung San Suu Kyi: 'There is no rule of law'

Myanmar's opposition leader explains her vision for the country and why she seeks to become its next president.

Last updated: 28 Dec 2013 15:11
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Myanmar is a country in transition. After years of unforgiving military rule its borders are beginning to open to outside scrutiny.

The march to freedom is being led by Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate and chairperson of the opposition National League for Democracy.

She had returned to Burma in 1988 after years of living abroad, only to encounter a violent military dictatorship. She became the loudest voice calling for democracy and human rights.

I don't think one person can be wholly responsible for change in his or her country ....  I have never claimed that I could do everything I wanted in Burma. 

Aung San Suu Kyi

It did not take the military junta long to recognise the threat she posed to them, and in 1989, the military government, which had renamed the country Myanmar, placed her under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent the next 15 years in custody.

In 1991, her determination to win democracy was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. But today, as she makes the transition from activist to full-time politician pursuing her goal of being president, Aung San Suu Kyi faces many challenges, including the fate of the Rohingya people.

Described by the UN as being amongst the most persecuted communities in the world, the Rohingya saw more than 125,000 people internally displaced in 2012. The Rakhine state is one of the most impoverished of Myanmar, and the waves of violence in the region have worsened conditions. 

Aung San Suu Kyi has, however, been criticised for failing to speak out strongly in their defence.

Asked how she would describe what is happening there, she says, "I don't know what is happening there, but what has always concerned me from the very beginning and I have talked about it often, but nobody seems to be really interested in it, is the lack of rule of law. I have always said that the first step we must take is to establish rule of law, that both communities may feel safe, and then we can progress towards a situation where we can talk over the problems and try to find lasting solutions. But when there is no rule of law and people are in fear of their life and their security, it is very difficult for them to be able to sit down and talk things over."

Aung San Suu Kyi says she cannot decide what is done in the Rakhine state.

"I'm not part of the government .... I cannot say why there is no rule of law, but it is not for me to establish rule of law, I don't have the authority. People forget that even as an opposition leader I am the leader of 44 MPs in a legislature of over 600, and yet they expect me to be able to do the things that only government really has the right or authority to do ... I think this is the price you pay when you have received so much support and sympathy from the world all over, that they would expect you to live up to certain expectations, but I have never claimed that I could do everything I wanted in Burma," she says.

She is close to realising her lifetime ambition of leading her country. But what is her vision for her country?

On Talk to Al Jazeera, we ask if can she navigate her way to power past the generals, some of whom may have taken off their uniforms, but others still wielding ultimate control.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.  

 Click here for more Talk to Al Jazeera

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