Bloomberg News

Suu Kyi Says Myanmar Must End Military’s ‘Special Position’

October 21, 2013

Myanmar needs constitutional changes that end the military’s “special position” in politics to foster democracy, said opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“This constitution is about preserving the privileged position not just of the military but of all those who were connected to it in the previous regime,” Suu Kyi told a joint meeting of two European Parliament committees today in Strasbourg, France. “We have a long way to go before we achieve genuine democracy and we have to start with amending this constitution, which is wholly undemocratic.”

Myanmar has progressed toward democracy since 2010 after five decades of military rule, prompting multinational companies to invest in the Asian country and the U.S. and the European Union to ease sanctions against it.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has permitted more political freedom and loosened economic controls in the country of 64 million people, attracting companies such as Ford Motor Co. (F:US), MasterCard Inc. (MA:US) and Unilever NV. (UNA) Chinese and Japanese businesses are also investing in the nation, which borders India, China and Thailand.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, must change the constitution before general elections due in 2015, Suu Kyi said today. In June, Suu Kyi said that she wants to run for president, a post for which she is ineligible under the current constitution because it says the head of state can’t have a child who is the citizen of a foreign country and her two sons are British nationals.

In her appearance today, Suu Kyi said constitutional change is Myanmar’s most pressing task and it requires the military’s agreement. One of the main aims of the current constitution “is to preserve the special position of the military in Burmese politics,” she said.

“Our greatest need is amendments to the constitution so that we have as the basic and fundamental law of our land a framework that will truly keep us firmly on the road to democracy,” Suu Kyi said. “The 2015 elections cannot be fair unless the constitution is changed.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Strasbourg, France at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Stearns at jstearns2@bloomberg.net


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