Suu Kyi Fights for a Chance to Become President

Suu Kyi Fights for a Chance to Become President
Suu Kyi on the Times for her enduring fight for human rights. courtesy of Time Magazine Dec 2010
Suu Kyi on the Times for her enduring fight for human rights. courtesy of Time Magazine Dec 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi, an eminent leader for democracy and human rights, plans to run for president in 2016 after her party (the National League for Democracy) wins Burma’s general election. The election will take place in November.

After almost 50 years of military rule and 4 years of partisan politics dominated by military-controlled Union Solidarity Development party, NLD’s initiative steers Burma towards a more democratic style government. Changing the momentum of government rule in Burma is no small feat, as “the constitution will have to change to allow civilian authorities to have the necessary democratic authority over the armed forces” [1].

The Constitution also clashes with Aung San Suu Kyi’s platform. A particular clause in the Constitution prohibits candidates with foreign family members from running; Suu Kyi’s own sons hold British Citizenships. The prohibition may stop Suu Kyi–arguably the most popular politician in the country–from ever becoming president. Even if the NDL wins the November general elections, Aung San Suu Kyi will still have to establish her legitimacy to run as President–in a way that preserves the integrity of the Constitution [2].

Changes can be made if Suu Kyi diplomatically conciles the approval of parliament and of the military body. The electoral success of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the upcoming elections will have placed pressure on the military to amend the constitution. Suu Kyi herself can then take the initiative to negotiate between members of parliament and military leadership, convincing them to appoint a caretaker president before formal amendments are made and Suu Kyi is authorized to become president.

Suu Kyi faces opposition from all sides–the Ma Ba Tha nationalist Buddhist movement has been campaigning against the NDL for fear that the rights of minority ethnic groups will be swallowed.

Despite setbacks, Suu Kyi intends to liberate her country from the military’s authoritarian regime after having experienced its oppression personally during her 15 years house arrest, back in 1989, for allegedly attempting to divide the military [3]. She is determined to lead the country, even if she must do so behind the scenes: “I’ve made it quite clear that if the N.L.D. wins the elections and we form a government, I’m going to be the leader of that government whether or not I’m the president” [4].

 

by Serena Chen ’19