Election success depends on stability of Myanmar

Election success depends on stability of Myanmar
Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during the National League for Democracy (NLD) party's Central Committee meeting in Yangon on June 20, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

YANGON - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Saturday the country would need to be stable for an election due in November to be successful and urged her party's candidates to be open about their assets.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to do well in the parliamentary election, which will be the first free and fair vote in Myanmar in 25 years.

Suu Kyi remains barred from holding the president's office by the 2008 military-drafted constitution, which does not allow for individuals with children who are foreign citizens to become president. Suu Kyi's two sons are British.

She told members of the NLD at a two-day party conference in Yangon that instability could threaten the voting process. "Stability is very important for the election period," she said. "Instability should not be the reason to stray from the way the country is going." She did not mention any specific source of instability but religious tensions simmered in Myanmar for almost half a century of military rule, before boiling over in 2012, just a year after a semi-civilian government took power.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in April the violent combustion of Buddhist nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment "could happen again in the politically charged context of an election".

The NLD won Myanmar's last real election in 1990 by a landslide, but the military nullified the result. The party boycotted the 2010 poll, widely regarded as rigged. Suu Kyi and 42 other members of the NLD were elected to parliament in by-elections held in 2012.

Suu Kyi told the party that potential NLD candidates for November would need to be open about their personal assets.

The call for transparency appeared to be a challenge to the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, which consists of a number of the country's high-profile businessman and former members of the military.

Proposed changes to the constitution, including the section that bars her from becoming president, were submitted to parliament on June 10. They are scheduled to be debated next week.

However, the proposed changes would still bar Suu Kyi from holding Myanmar's top political position as it would allow individuals with children married to foreigners to be president, but still block those with foreign children.

Suu Kyi, who turned 70 on Friday, told Reuters in April that boycotting the election remained an "option" if the country's military drafted constitution was to remain unchanged.

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