Suu Kyi’s party to run in Myanmar elections

Opposition party plans to contest in 2015 polls even if constitution keeps barring its leader from presidential race.

Suu Kyi's NLD party has suggested changes to the constitution to allow her to run [EPA]

The party of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has declared that it will take part in 2015 parliamentary elections even if the country’s constitution barring her from running for president is not amended.

Nyan Win, spokesman for National League for Democracy (NLD), said at a news conference on Saturday that the party would contest the polls, which Suu Kyi had said cannot be fair unless the constitution is changed.

Article 59 of the constitution says anyone whose spouse or children owes allegiance to a foreign power cannot become president or vice president. Suu Kyi was married to the late British scholar Michael Aris, and her two sons are foreign citizens.

Myanmar’s parliament formed a Constitution Review Committee in July to recommend changes to the constitution before the 2015 elections.

The NLD decided at a meeting on Saturday to send suggestions on changing 168 points from 14 chapters of the constitution, including the article that disqualifies Suu Kyi from becoming president, said Win Myint, a senior party member.

Referendum required

Constitutional amendments require the consent of more than 75 percent of lawmakers, followed by more than 50 percent approval in a nationwide referendum.

The 2008 constitution was drawn up under Myanmar’s previous military regime to ensure its continuing influence in government.

The NLD considers it undemocratic because of clauses giving the military a mandatory allocation of 25 percent of parliamentary seats and disqualifying Suu Kyi from running for president.

Myanmar is a republic where the president is chosen by parliament rather than directly elected. The NLD expects to do well enough in the 2015 polls to offer its own presidential candidate, and Suu Kyi has expressed an interest in running.

Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has said that “there will be more problems” if the constitution is not changed before the 2015 elections, though she has not said what would happen.

Source: AP