Tens of thousands in Myanmar turn out for Suu Kyi rally
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi addressed a huge rally on the outskirts of Myanmar’s biggest city Sunday, offering a message of reconciliation with political opponents if her party sweeps the upcoming general election.
Suu Kyi also called for calm and stability as the campaign period nears its end ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
Tens of thousands of ecstatic National League for Democracy supporters swarmed onto a large playing field, waiting for hours in the blazing sunshine for Suu Kyi to make her entrance.
She had hoped to hold the rally in the center of Yangon, near the revered Shwedagon Pagoda, reviving memories of her first-ever political speech in 1988, but city authorities refused her request. The 1988 speech put her on a collision course with the then-military junta and marked the beginning of Suu Kyi’s long and often difficult political odyssey.
Just days after an NLD member was wounded in a stabbing at another rally, Suu Kyi asked the crowds to maintain stability right up to the end of campaigning. Without naming names, she said that “there are some who are thinking to use bad ways to try to win.”
Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest under the former military dictatorship. She was finally released five years ago.
The junta stepped back from power in 2011 with the election of President Thein Sein, and the country has moved toward democratization, though the military still maintains a powerful position.
Though her party is expected to do well in the election, Suu Kyi herself is constitutionally barred from the presidency because her late husband was British and her two sons hold foreign passports.