Bold Aung San Suu Kyi says she will be “above the president”

  • By Myanmar Now
  • 05/11/2015

Myanmar's National League for Democracy Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on during a news conference at her home in Yangon November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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By Ros Russell

YANGON (Myanmar Now) – Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she would be “above the president” if her party wins Sunday’s election and forms a government, sidestepping a constitutional ban on her taking the top office.

She said on Thursday if her National League for Democracy (NLD) party wins the landmark vote, she would take “all the important decisions” despite being barred from the presidency because her sons are foreign nationals.

"I will be above the president. It’s a very simple message," Suu Kyi told reporters in the garden of her lakeside home in Yangon where she spent some 15 years under house arrest during military rule.

“We have somebody who is prepared to represent the NLD as a president but I will make all the proper and important decisions with regard to government.”

Suu Kyi said the election process so far had fallen short of a free and fair poll, with irregularities in advance voting and the voter list.

She accused officials connected to the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which has several former generals among its top ranks, of using dirty tactics and said the electoral commission had failed in its responsibilities to ensure a fair vote.

“I am concerned about the extent to which the authorities and those connected to the USDP are prepared to go in order to try to win the elections,” a relaxed Suu Kyi said in her final news conference before the Nov. 8 general elections.

“We have information already about advance voting carried out in a totally illegal way contrary to the regulations of the election commission.”

The NLD is expected to do well in the elections, and could form the next government, capping a democratic transition that began in 2011 when a quasi-civilian government took power, ending a half-century of military rule.

Suu Kyi’s party won a 1990 poll by a landslide, but the junta ignored the result.

This time, said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the elections “must be honoured by all concerned and then we can go forward to building up a genuine democratic society.”

Suu Kyi sounded a conciliatory note to her political opponents, saying she wanted to form a national unity government.

“If the NLD wins overwhelmingly, which I hope we do … we would like to make it a government of national reconciliation in order to set a good precedent for our country,” she said. “It should not be a zero sum game where the winners take all and losers lose everything.”

She fended off criticism for not speaking out on behalf of Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. She said the issue should not be exaggerated and that the whole country was experiencing a “dramatic situation” ahead of the vote.

If her party won power, Suu Kyi said, “I would promise everybody in this country proper protection in accordance to the law and in accordance to the norms of human rights.”

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