Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader, may be constitutionally barred from becoming president, but that won't stop her from calling the shots. "Above the president, I make all the decisions because I'm the leader of the winning party," she said Tuesday in an interview with Singapore's Channel NewsAsia, reiterating her earlier claims that she would run the government if her party won current elections.
Final votes were still being tallied Tuesday in Myanmar's elections, viewed as the country's most democratic in a quarter century, but preliminary results indicated that the National League for Democracy, which Suu Kyi leads, had won. Suu Kyi told the BBC that her party appeared to have garnered 75 percent of the votes, more than the 67 percent needed to win. Myanmar's election commission has said the National League for Democracy had won 78 seats out of the 88 announced so far in the lower house of parliament, which has 440 seats, the BBC reported.
Under Myanmar's constitution, drafted by the military, Suu Kyi cannot become president because she has foreign-born offspring, per a clause that some have suggested was written with Suu Kyi in mind. Ahead of elections that began Sunday, Suu Kyi said Thursday that "I will run the government and we will have a president who will work in accordance with the policies of the NLD."
Since 2011, the Union Solidarity Development Party, which is backed by Myanmar's military, has been in power.
Suu Kyi also told the BBC, "If I'm required to field a president who meets the requirements...of the Constitution, all right, we'll find one. But that won't stop me from making all the decisions as the leader of the winning party." Asked whether she thought the admission was too frank, she responded, "I don't know whether it's startlingly frank, but I do believe in transparency and accountability," later adding, "Good governance is what our people have not had for decades."
She told Channel NewsAsia that the president her party selects would be chosen solely to fulfill constitutional requirements. "You have to understand this perfectly well that he will have no authority," she added. She justified the decision by explaining, "In any democratic country, it's the leader of the winning party who becomes the leader of the government, and if this constitution doesn't allow it, then we'll have to make arrangements so that we can proceed along usual democratic lines."
At the same time, Suu Kyi denied the possibility that such a move would make the government an authoritarian one. "We have the support of the people and governments that depend on the support of the people will never become authoritarian," she said. The president is expected to be selected in February at the earliest, the BBC reported.