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Myanmar election: Suu Kyi vows to lead government

- BBC, YANGON

Oct 8, 2015-

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has vowed to lead the country if her National League for Democracy comes to power in the upcoming election.

This is despite the fact that she is constitutionally barred from the presidency because she married and had children with a foreign citizen.

The historic poll on 8 November is set to be the first openly contested general election in 25 years.

The NLD is expected to win the most seats.

"I've made it quite clear that if the NLD wins elections and we form a government, I'm going to be the leader of that government whether or not I'm the president," Ms Suu Kyi said in an interview with India Today TV.

Myanmar does not have a prime minister and the president, who is voted on by parliament after the election, serves as both head of state and head of government.

'Why not?'

BBC correspondents in Myanmar say it remains unclear how Ms Suu Kyi could lead the government while barred from the presidency.

They add, however, that her ambitions to be president have never been hidden and as a party leader with no clear rivals she would inevitably set the policy of any NLD-majority government.

Ms Suu Kyi does not have a chosen deputy, which has raised questions about who would lead the government in the event of the NLD landslide required to win a majority in parliament, where 25% of seats are allocated to the military.

But in some of her most detailed comments on the issue yet, Ms Suu Kyi said it "would have to be" her, as party leader.

"Why not? Should you have to be president to lead a country?" she said.

The Nobel laureate dismissed suggestions that she would seek to emulate Sonia Gandhi, the head of India's Congress party, who wielded significant power behind the scenes of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.

Post-poll positioning begins: Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Yangon

In just over a month Myanmar will hold its first relatively free election in 25 years. It will be a critical moment in this country's move away from isolation and military dictatorship, but not as important as the negotiations that will follow. And so the positioning has already begun.

These are bold words from Ms Suu Kyi, but Myanmar's political reality is that anything done without at least tacit military approval is likely to end in failure.

Many people think the most likely outcome of the election is that President Thein Sein will remain in office either through a deal with ethnic parties or - just possibly - with Ms Suu Kyi.

Ms Suu Kyi won a seat in parliament in 2012 amid reforms by the military-backed civilian government that came to power in 2011, ending half a century of military rule.

Ms Suu Kyi said the NLD would nominate a civilian party member for president if it won next month, rather than a military candidate.

The 70-year-old said the poll would be "the most important election in the history of independent Burma", using the country's former name.

'Worrying intolerance'

Her party last took part in a national election in 1990, winning a landslide. But the result was ignored by the military, which kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is backed by the military, swept the polls in 2010.

In the interview, Ms Suu Kyi also hit back at criticisms that she has failed to speak out about persecution facing Myanmar's minority Rohingya Muslim community in western Rakhine state.

She acknowledged "very worrying signs of religious intolerance" in Myanmar but said "flaming words of condemnation" was not the way to achieve reconciliation.

The NLD has come under fire for failing to field any Muslim candidates for the election.

Published: 08-10-2015 11:46

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