Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi this morning said she expects her National League for Democracy party (NLD) to decisively win the general election on Sunday, after which it will nominate a president. Despite being barred from Burma’s top job, she reiterated that she would head the next government, insisting she would take on a position “above the president”.
Speaking at a press conference at her University Avenue residence in Rangoon, Suu Kyi said that if her party wins the election with a strong majority, “I will lead; I will be making all the political decisions.”
Suu Kyi is barred from seeking the presidency on the grounds that her children and late husband are foreign citizens.
She said the party would nominate a president who is willing to work with NLD policy.
“I have said I am going to be above the president … I have already made plans,” she insisted.
During the press conference, Suu Kyi fielded questions in both English and Burmese, however she replied tersely at times and even berated journalists for questions that she said they should already know the answers to.
With regards to the run-up to Sunday’s polls, the NLD leader criticised the campaign tactics of her opponents.
“Already the election process is proving to be less than free and fair,” she said. Suu Kyi told reporters that her party had begun to compile evidence of misconduct at local levels, but said that “we need to wait until after the election to see exactly how many mistakes are made.”
Suu Kyi noted that while the NLD was not setting a minimum numbers of votes as a threshold or indicator of fraud, “If it looks to be suspicious, we will have to make a fuss about it.”
She added: “If there is fraud, then it’s up to the international community to expose it and condemn it.”
One of the foreign media’s most persistent questions for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is her apparent silence on human rights abuses against the ethnic Rohingya group, and campaigns against Burmese Muslims in general.
Critics have accused Suu Kyi of kowtowing to anti-Muslim group the Ma-Ba-Tha, in fear of their considerable influence on the nationwide electorate.
The NLD has been criticised for ostracising Muslims and for failing to include a single Muslim candidate for this election.
On Thursday, Suu Kyi stood firm and pointed to the case of one single Muslim candidate who was fielded by the party, only to be disqualified on citizenship grounds. Suu Kyi claimed that as in 1990, when the party “only fielded Muslim candidates in Muslim areas”, the NLD has chosen candidates that reflected the make up of each constituency.
Suu Kyi said the NLD has avoided the topic of religion in its campaigns entirely, and claimed that the influence of the ultranationalist monks known as the Ma-Ba-Tha on the election campaign is “unconstitutional”.
“We [NLD] have lodged a number of complaints about the use of religion in political campaigning,” she said.
Suu Kyi said that if her party was elected to government, she would address the plight of the Rohingya. Over one hundred thousand of the stateless Muslim minority remain confined to squalid displacement camps in the country’s far west after deadly violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012. Suu Kyi said that she would deal with the domestically sensitive case “in accordance with the law and in accordance with the norms of human rights.”
However, Suu Kyi indicated that she did not believe the situation was spiralling into genocide, as argued by a recent report that implicated government officials in an allegedly systematic destruction of the Rohingya race in full or in part.
WATCH full one-hour press conference (Burmese and English languages) at Suu Kyi’s house on 5 November 2015:
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