Let the people choose, US tells Myanmar


Washington -

The United States urged Myanmar on Monday to allow its people to freely choose the next president amid a row over a law which would ban opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running.

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Myanmar's democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. File picture: Soe Zeya Tun

Since Suu Kyi became a lawmaker two years ago, the former political prisoner-turned-politician has been campaigning to amend the military-drafted constitution that effectively bars her from becoming president of the Southeast Asian nation.

She has called on the international community to support her campaign and help prepare what she calls “a fair playing ground” for the 2015 presidential elections.

Suu Kyi appeared on Monday to win implicit backing for her cause from the US.

“We believe constitutional reform should pave the way for the Burmese to freely choose their president in a free and fair 2015 election,” the State Department said, referring to the country by its other name.

“Enabling the Burmese people to freely choose who they want to lead them during the critical next phase of transition will help to ensure stability in the country as the democratic transition continues,” the State Department said in a statement.

Myanmar's 2008 constitution blocks anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country - a clause widely believed to be targeted at the Nobel laureate, whose two sons are British.

The State Department said it would continue its discussions with the Myanmar government and “key stakeholders as they work to develop their final recommendations on constitutional changes”. - Sapa-AFP

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