KAWHMU (Myanmar) • Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to form a government free from corruption, empower workers and end reliance on foreign aid, as she campaigned yesterday for the South-east Asian country's first free national ballot in 25 years.
Wearing red shirts and waving party flags, thousands of supporters gave a rock-star welcome to Ms Suu Kyi as she campaigned in her constituency on the fringes of Myanmar's commercial capital, Yangon, ahead of the Nov 8 election.
"We need a government which is free from corruption for the development of the country," Ms Suu Kyi told the rally in Kawhmu, an impoverished, rice-growing area that is a stronghold for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
In the run-up to the polls, Ms Suu Kyi has pledged to speed up democratic reforms, scrutinise investments to limit environmental impacts and amend a junta-drafted Constitution that bars her from becoming president.
"Developed country means a country whose citizens are able to work for their lives. We don't want to be a country which needs to ask other countries for help," said Ms Suu Kyi, waving from a stage decked with photos of herself.
She also urged supporters to check their names on voter lists as her opposition party has raised the alarm over "chaos" in Myanmar's electoral rolls just weeks before the historic polls.
Some 32 million people are eligible to vote in the Nov 8 parliamentary election, but there are growing concerns about the electoral rolls, which the NLD says are riddled with errors.
"If you are not included in the voter list, correct it. You still have time," she told throngs of supporters, many of whom were dressed in traditional ethnic Karen clothing and had plastered NLD stickers on their cheeks.
Meanwhile, Myanmar's powerful army chief said yesterday that he would welcome the prospect of a female president, words that will be of little comfort to Ms Suu Kyi as, under the Constitution, the country cannot be led by anyone with foreign-born offspring. Ms Suu Kyi's children were born in the United Kingdom to a British father.
But in a rare interview with local and international media, General Min Aung Hlaing said he had no issue with the formerly junta-run nation being led one day by a woman.
"I welcome them," the army chief said, referring to both men and women who wish to serve the country. He was speaking at the media meeting in a military compound in the capital Naypyitaw.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE