The coming election will be a key test for the Southeast Asian country, under military rule for decades. The economy and peace talks with armed groups dominate the campaign. International charges against Myanmar over the Rohingya tragedy weight heavily as well.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has formally announced this morning that she will seek a second term of office in the upcoming November elections.
Experts note that the vote represents a key test for the Southeast Asian country, which was ruled for decades by a repressive military dictatorship, and has only in the past few years undertaken the difficult path of democratic development.
This process has come with major difficulties, controversies and violence, including the persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims, in the western state of Rakhine, a charge rejected by Myanmar authorities.
The former secretary, now president of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, spent years under house arrest before her release. In 2015, she led her party to a landslide victory. However, under the constitution, she has to share power with the generals, who control a quarter of all seats in both houses of parliament.
Once an icon of the pro-democracy struggle, Suu Kyi has been State Counsellor (de facto of Prime Minister) since she is barred from the Presidency, the Foreign Ministry and the President’s Office because.
Despite such constraints, she runs the Myanmar government and has been harshly criticised in recent years for the violence (genocide according to some) against Rohingya Muslims.
As a result, her international image has suffered. Countries like Canada and cities like Oxford, where she graduated, have withdrawn honours conferred upon her in the past; however, at home she remains very popular, so much so that her re-election is almost taken for granted.
Today the 75-year-old leader met about fifty supporters outside her home in Yangon, the country's economic and commercial capital, making her candidacy in November official.
Some loyalists wore red coloured masks, with the NDL’s symbol, and chanted slogans and songs including "Mother Suu, stay healthy".
The Rohingya question remains the hot topic at the international level. This stems from the flight of more than 730,000 people in the wake of a military crackdown. According to foreign observers and some UN agencies, the action was tantamount to genocide.
Suu Kyi has always rejected the charge. Responding to Gambia's complaint before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Myanmar leader called the accusation "incomplete and incorrect".
At home, public attention is centred on the difficult peace process with armed groups in various regions of the country, as well as the economic crisis, exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is linked to the military and made up of several former senior army officers, is the NDL’s main rival.