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Aung San Suu Kyi pointed a finger at the former ruling junta in Burma on Wednesday, claiming that the 2008 constitution was specifically worded to prevent her from becoming president of the country.
Speaking at Sydney Opera House as part of her first official visit to Australia, Suu Kyi responded to a journalist’s question by saying, “It’s not whether or not I can be president, but because this constitution was written specifically to prevent me from being president. I object to this, because no constitution should be written with one person in mind.”
Suu Kyi was undoubtedly referring to a clause in the constitution that states that any person who is married to a foreigner or whose spouses or children are overseas citizens are barred from being appointed to the presidency by parliament.
Suu Kyi’s two sons with her late husband Michael Aris are British; the clause is widely believed to be targeted at the opposition leader.
Suu Kyi was awarded two prestigious honorary doctorates degrees from the University of Sydney and University Of Technology during Wednesday’s ceremony at the Sydney Opera House in front of an audience which included members of the Burmese community, the Australian ambassador in Burma, Australian ministers. A Burmese band also performed for the audience.
Suu Kyi mainly focused her speech on the need to amend the constitution, but also paid homage to the struggle for democracy in her country. But she warned against complacency and emphasized the risk of believing that Burma has already achieved democracy.
“Those of you who think that Burma has successfully taken the path to reform, would be mistaken,” she said. “If you want to know why you are mistaken, you only have to study the Burmese constitution, not a pleasant task I can tell you. But if you read it carefully, you will understand why we cannot have genuine democracy under such a constitution.”
Questioned about the conditions for the Rohingya community in Burma, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate answered in general terms that the Burmese government has an obligation to protect everybody in the country.
“We cannot have peace without security,” she said. “I have said repeatedly that unless our people all feel secure, you can’t expect them to sit down and sort out their differences”.
Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Australia on Wednesday for a five-day visit as a guest of Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
The National League for Democracy lawmaker will also visit Melbourne and Canberra where she will meet Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.