Aung San Suu Kyi rally draws thousands in Myanmar

Nobel Laureate promises change ahead of landmark election marred by claims minorities have been left out of the vote.

    Tens of thousands of supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have gathered in Yangon for her party's largest rally so far, a week before the country votes in landmark elections.

    "I want to tell you again to vote for us if you want to see real changes in the country," she told supporters at the rally in eastern Yangon on Sunday.

    "I have no fear at all to face or fight anyone as long as you support me."

    Tens of thousands streamed into the outdoor parade ground next to a Buddhist temple in an eastern district of Yangon, the first major National League for Democracy (NLD) party rally in the heart of the commercial hub.

    Political tensions are running high in Myanmar, which heads to the polls next Sunday.

    Late on Thursday, Naing Ngan Linn, an NLD sitting MP, was attacked with a sword while canvassing in the Tharketa township in his constituency, sustaining head injuries. 

    Observers hope the vote will be the fairest election in decades as the nation slowly shakes off years of brutal and isolating military government rule.

    The run-up to the polls, however, has been marred by allegations of dirty tricks, complaints over the pre-poll preparations and concerns that significant minority groups are unrepresented and disenfranchised.

    Suu Kyi, 70, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent struggle for democracy.

    A recent Al Jazeera investigation uncovering a "purge" of Muslim candidates from the NLD has cast a shadow on the Nobel Laureate's reputation as a pioneer for democracy.

    While the NLD is expected to sweep the polls, Suu Kyi is barred by the constitution from becoming president herself.

    Myanmar was run for decades by a brutal military government which jailed, killed and exiled dissidents, but the military ceded power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, paving the way to this year's elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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