Aung San Suu Kyi rejects rule barring her from Myanmar presidency

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, says its up the 'will of the people,' not a Constitutional clause that forbids anyone with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president.

(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese woman welcomes Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi upon arrival at Sigal Monastery in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, June 16, 2014. Suu Kyi arrived in Nepal Friday to attend a democracy conference, meet top political leaders and visit Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said it is up to the will of the people of her country if she becomes their president, reacting Monday to a vote against changing a constitutional clause that bars her from the office.

"Whether or not I become the president in the future depends on the will of the people, their will with regard to amending the constitution and their will with regard to whom they wish to choose as a president," she said at the end of a four-day visit to Nepal.

The Myanmar Constitution bars anyone whose spouse or children are loyal to foreign countries from becoming president or vice president. Suu Kyi's late husband and her two sons are British citizens.

A parliamentary committee voted last week against changing the charter. If the recommendation is endorsed by the full parliament, it is likely to have a significant impact on the next general election in 2015. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party is expected to mount a strong challenge, with a good possibility of winning, but without Suu Kyi as a prospective president, its support may flag.

In 1990 elections, she led the party to a landslide victory but the military did not allow it to govern. The NLD boycotted the next general election in 2010 but became the leading opposition party after parliamentary by-elections in 2012.

Suu Kyi said she is seeking to amend the constitution to make it possible for a majority in the legislature to change the constitution.

"The main clause in the constitution which we want changed is the amendment clause itself which gives the military a practical right to veto over amendments," she said. "So we want to change it to make it possible for the majority of elected members of the legislature to change whichever part of the constitution they should think is necessary."

The 2008 constitution was drawn up by the previous military regime to ensure its continuing influence in government. It gives the military a mandatory 25 percent of parliamentary seats, handing it veto power over any change in the constitution, which requires greater than 75 percent approval, followed by a nationwide referendum.

"I do believe the constitution was written with me in mind. But I think this is of course unacceptable democratically speaking that one person should be targeted by any particular constitution," she said.

While in Nepal, Suu Kyi met top political leaders and visited Lumbini in southern Nepal where Buddha was born.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.