YANGON • Police in Myanmar have assigned personnel to protect Ms Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time, after the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader received a death threat on Facebook.
A police chief told BBC Burmese that a special unit had been assigned to protect Ms Suu Kyi after the threat was issued over a possible constitutional change enabling her to become President in the wake of the NLD sweeping to power in the country in a landmark election last November.
The man who made the death threat against Ms Suu Kyi in a Facebook post, Mr Ye Lwin Myint, has since apologised. But the threat is being taken seriously, the police chief told the BBC: "I told the local police office straightaway to take care of her security when I saw the post. We cannot afford anything to happen to a person of her stature."
An NLD member who is close to Ms Suu Kyi but did not want to be named confirmed that extra security measures were in place "since that man's threat".
In the post last week, Mr Lwin Myint threatened to shoot anyone who tries to change a controversial clause in the Constitution which bars the pro-democracy champion from the top office. While he did not specifically name the 70-year-old, Ms Suu Kyi has made little secret of her desire to be President.
He had also posted pictures of himself carrying an assault rifle.
Till now, Ms Suu Kyi has been protected by her own security detail. It will continue to guard her, but police units will now provide extra protection outside her home.
The threat against Ms Suu Kyi was made amid reports that the Nobel Peace laureate aims to sidestep the clause in the Constitution that bars her from becoming President because her two sons have foreign passports.
Ms Suu Kyi appears to be planning to get her Members of Parliament to temporarily suspend the clause, according to the BBC in Myanmar.
She has also been negotiating the issue with military chief Min Aung Hlaing, whose support she would need. While the clause can be legally scrapped through a 75 per cent- plus-one vote in Parliament, this would be impossible without the military's nod, since the military controls 25 per cent of the seats - all unelected.
Ms Suu Kyi spent many years under house arrest during the military dictatorship in the country. But thanks to a liberalisation process that has been under way in recent years, the NLD is now the ruling party in the country.
Ms Suu Kyi's father, national hero General Aung San, was assassinated months before the country gained independence in 1947.