Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday declared her intention to run for president, calling for all of the country’s people to share the fruits of its dramatic reforms.
Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in the capital Naypyidaw, the Nobel Peace laureate confirmed she had set her sights on elections due to be held in 2015.
“I want to run for president and I’m quite frank about it,” the veteran democracy activist told delegates. “If I pretended that I didn’t want to be president I wouldn’t be honest.”
President Thein Sein’s government has surprised the world since replacing junta rule two years ago, leading to dramatic political and economic changes that have led to the lifting of most Western sanctions.
The reforms have stoked huge international interest in Myanmar — which is strategically located and has vast natural resources — and the forum is seen as a platform for the country to tout its potential to investors.
“You come to Myanmar at a pivotal moment in our history. We are working hard to move from military rule to democracy,” Thein Sein told delegates in the opening ceremony, adding that other goals were to permanently end the country’s civil wars and reform the economy.
“I promise you that we will not waver in this task,” he said.
One major change called for by the opposition is the reform of the military-drafted constitution, which effectively bars Suu Kyi from becoming president because of a rule blocking anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from being appointed by parliament.
Suu Kyi’s two sons with her late husband Michael Aris are British and the clause is widely believed to be targeted at the Nobel laureate.