RANGOON, Burma — The party of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Saturday that it will field candidates in parliamentary elections in 2015 even if a constitutional measure barring her from running for president is not amended.
It was the first time the National League for Democracy had announced it would take part in the polls, which Suu Kyi has said cannot be fair unless the constitution is changed.
“I want to say that the NLD will contest the 2015 elections,” party spokesman Nyan Win said at a news conference.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is a republic, with a president chosen by parliament rather than directly elected. The NLD has said it expects to do well enough in the 2015 elections to offer its own presidential candidate, and Suu Kyi has expressed an interest in running.
The 2008 constitution was drawn up under the country’s former military regime to ensure its continuing influence in government. The NLD considers it undemocratic because of clauses allocating a mandatory 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military and disqualifying Suu Kyi from running for president.
The NLD boycotted 2010 elections but ran in by-elections in 2012 after changes were made to election laws. It won 43 of the 45 seats it contested in both houses of parliament, with Suu Kyi — a former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate — winning a seat in the lower house.
Burma’s parliament formed a Constitution Review Committee in July to recommend changes to the charter before the 2015 elections. The 109-member committee includes lawmakers from all parties, including Suu Kyi’s party and President Thein Sein’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, along with the military’s allotted representatives.
The committee will collect suggestions from individuals, organizations and political parties, and submit them to parliament by the end of January.
The NLD decided at a meeting Saturday to send suggestions on changing 168 points from 14 chapters of the constitution, including the article that disqualifies Suu Kyi from becoming president, said Win Myint, a senior party member.
Article 59 states that anyone whose spouse or children owe allegiance to a foreign power cannot become president or vice president. Suu Kyi was married to the late British scholar Michael Aris, and her two sons are foreign citizens.
Constitutional amendments require the consent of more than 75 percent of lawmakers, followed by more than 50 percent approval in a nationwide referendum.