Suu Kyi Seeks Closer Army Ties After Re-Election as Party Leader

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, elected yesterday as chairwoman of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy, urged her party to forge closer ties with the military before national elections in 2015.

Suu Kyi, 67, will lead the 15-member central executive committee, which was formed over the weekend at the party’s first congress since it was founded in 1988. The democracy leader spent 15 years under house arrest and rejoined the political process after holding talks with President Thein Sein two years ago, following an election that ended five decades of direct military rule.

“I want the relationship between the people and the military to be OK,” Suu Kyi said yesterday in a speech in Yangon. “It was OK in the past. We have to try to make it OK in the future. The NLD has to try.”

The NLD expects a victory in 2015 elections after winning 43 of 44 seats in by-elections last year, which may give its lawmakers enough votes to choose the president. Suu Kyi is seeking support from the military for constitutional changes that would allow her to become head of state, senior members of her party said last month. The constitution says the president can’t have a child who is a citizen of a foreign country. Both of Suu Kyi’s sons have British citizenship.

The 2008 constitution automatically grants the military a quarter of the seats in parliament and amendments need more than 75 percent of votes to pass.

Suu Kyi said in January she was “fond” of the military, which her father General Aung San played a role in founding in the 1940s when he led troops in a revolt against Japanese occupiers. He was assassinated in 1947, when Suu Kyi was two years old.

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