Uneasy Path to Reelection for Myanmar Leader Aung San Suu Kyi By Phillip Howard
Criticism and struggle have helped define the tenure of Myanmar’s top political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi . Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, was elected in 2015, and has pledged to run for re-election next year.
Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), lost significant power in last years’s by-elections. NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt contended the NLD lost five out of six seats in ethnic areas because “ethnic people are not satisfied with our performance on the peace process,” further adding the losses serve as a “lesson” for 2020.
Suu Kyi has faced criticism for the treatment of Rohingya Muslims, in what the United Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.” Approximately 700,000 of Rohingya Mulsims have been killed or fled to neighboring countries, prompting a refugee crisis.
Another key issue is the role of the military in government affairs. Colonels in Myanmar’s military have taken to filing criminal defamation cases against civilians to stifle criticism of the military’s authority. Military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun claimed these lawsuits seek to defend the “dignity” of the armed forces.
The military has substantial political influence as a result of Myanmar’s 2008 constitution. Suu Kyi ran in 2015 under a promise to change the constitution to reflect a more civilian form of government, but that process has been slow.
Myanmma’s election will take place later next year.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College