Karen State: Suu Kyi Lobby’s for Constitutional Reform

The National League for Democracy has hit the campaign early in an attempt to overturn Burma’s contentious National Constitution that effectively bars its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi from the country’s presidency.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National Leaugue of Democracy (NLD) party, called for the support of ethnic groups in her push for constitutional reform, in a speech given at Than-Iwin Sport Stadium in Hpa-An, Karen State.

“As our country is formed out of various ethnicities, there will be peace, development, and prosperity only if we support ethnic minorities. Therefore, the support of ethnic communities is very important for us,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

The current 2008 constitution bars Suu Kyi from the Presidential office and guarantees 25% of seats in parliament to the military.

Suu Kyi explained that the NLD accepted the framework of a federal system that recognized the rights of ethnic states and that the NLD had done so for more than 20 years. She also said that constitutional reform was an issue that affected everyone in Burma, and not just ethnic Burmans.

NLD officials estimated that 1,000 people from Karen and Mon States attended the NLD conference and said that the majority of those attending supported the proposal of constitutional reform when the opinions of those attending were tallied.

National reconciliation, national unity and rule of law were also strong themes in Suu Kyi’s presentation, and she underlined that these points by saying that political progress depended upon these issues being resolved.

Nan Si Saw Phaung, who attended the conference, told Karen News that the NLD and Ms Suu Kyi have to prove to ethnic people that they are sincere about ethnic issues.

“Aung San Suu Kyi needs to give a guarantee of equal rights for ethnic minorities if she wants to get our support. We are still uncertain of how much this trip will benefit the Karen people.”

In spite of her misgivings about the commitment to ethnic issues, Nan Phaung said she was happy that Ms Suu Kyi had taken the time to visited her Karen State, “we are happy about her visit.”

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