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US urges Myanmar to allow people to choose President

Myanmar Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi pictured in Melbourne in December 2013. (Photo: ABC: Iskandar Razak)

June 18, 2014

The US has urged Myanmar to allow its people to freely choose the next President, amid a row over a law preventing the Opposition Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from running.

Since she became an MP two years ago, the former political prisoner-turned-politician has been campaigning to change a clause in the military-drafted constitution that effectively bars her from becoming President.

She has called on the international community to support her campaign and help prepare what she calls "a fair playing ground" for the 2015 presidential elections.

It appears Ms Suu Kyi has implicit backing for her cause from the United States.

"We believe constitutional reform should pave the way for the Burmese to freely choose their president in a free and fair 2015 election," the State Department said, referring to the country by its other name.

"Enabling the Burmese people to freely choose who they want to lead them during the critical next phase of transition will help to ensure stability in the country as the democratic transition continues," the State Department said in a statement.

Myanmar's 2008 constitution blocks anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country - a clause widely believed to be targeted at Ms Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British.

The US State Department said it would continue its discussions with the Myanmar Government and "key stakeholders as they work to develop their final recommendations on constitutional changes."

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