Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on Sunday for changes to the military-drafted constitution, on her first political trip since ending a boycott of the country’s political system last year and announcing plans to run for parliament. Thousands of supporters lined the roads, many shouting “Long live mother Suu,” as her motorcade wound through the rural coastal region of Dawei, about 615 km (380 miles) south of her home city, Yangon, the main business centre. The trip, only her fourth outside Yangon since her release from years of house arrest in November 2010, demonstrates the growing prominence of the Nobel Peace laureate as the Southeast Asian state emerges from half a century of isolation.
“There are certain laws which are obstacles to the freedom of the people and we will strive to abolish these laws within the framework of the parliament,” Suu Kyi said to cheers from supporters, after meeting officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Dawei.
The NLD, though well known in the country, has limited political experience. It won an election by a landslide in 1990, a year after Suu Kyi began a lengthy period of incarceration, but the then rulers ignored the result and detained many party members and supporters. The NLD boycotted the next election, held in 2010 and won by a military-backed party after opposition complaints of rigging.
Her address on Sunday offered the most extensive detail yet of the policies she would bring to parliament. She said she wants to revise a 2008 army-drafted constitution that gives the military wide-ranging powers, including the ability to appoint key cabinet members, take control of the country in a state of emergency and occupy a quarter of the seats in parliament.