Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was on Sunday denied access to festival grounds in Shan State capital Taunggyi, causing a scheduled party rally to be moved to a vacant roadside lot.
Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi and her entourage arrived in Shan State on Friday, the latest stop on a nationwide tour to explain the party’s stance on Constitutional reform.
Rally organisers were notified by the Shan regional government on Thursday that their request to hold a rally at the Awaiyar hot-air balloon field, owned by the Burmese armed forces, had been rejected.
Tun Naing, chairman of the Yawnghwe [Nyaung Shwe] chapter of the NLD, said the assembly was instead held on a vacant lot, where she spoke to her supporters from a makeshift stage erected alongside a 10-wheel truck.
“Authorities turned down our request to hold the rally at the hot-air balloon field,” he said. “But nevertheless, a lot of people came to our rally.”
He noted that other campaign events in the Shan towns of Nansang, Mongnai and Langkho were similarly attended by hundreds of supporters and residents.
Suu Kyi’s Taunggyi speech stressed the role of ethnic nationalities in the effort to amend the controversial 2008 Constitution, which contains provisions that enshrine military presence in Parliament, hamper the amendment process, and prohibit the opposition leader from seeking the Presidency.
“She [Suu Kyi] said that completely rewriting the constitution may take a long time, so it must only be amended. She stressed that the restriction on presidential qualifications should be abolished,” said Tun Naing.
Suu Kyi’s tour of Shan State got off to a rocky start on 24 January, when she had to reroute her flight from military-owned Nansang Airport to Heho because authorities did not grant her landing permission.