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Suu Kyi urges world to pressure Myanmar leaders on reform

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday urged European Union and world leaders to pile pressure on her country's government to complete its reform process.

The Nobel peace laureate told a small group of journalists that the country's democratic future as well as an end to its continuing ethnic conflict depended on quick and sweeping amendments to the constitution.

"Reform has gone as far as it can without changes to the constitution," she said.

"Unless this constitution is amended we have to take it that the present administration has no interest in reforming further.

"The European Union must come out unambiguously on the need to change the constitution," she said, calling also for world support as "the opinion of the international community matters to this government because it wants aid and investment."

The current Myanmar constitution, crafted under the former military regime, notably would block Suu Kyi from becoming president after 2015 elections as it excludes anyone whose spouses or children are foreign nationals from holding the post.

Her two sons are British nationals through their father, the late scholar Michael Aris.

The constitution also requires the head of state to have military experience.

Myanmar will hold parliamentary polls in 2015, with the new parliament then choosing a president and Suu Kyi has said she wants to run for the presidency.

Suu Kyi, whose party is canvasing nationwide in favour of a constitutional rewrite because "it is not democratic", said the country was awaiting the results of a parliamentary enquiry on the issue at the end of the year.

But the government had failed to publicly commit to the need for a rewrite, she said.

"So far they have said it was up to the legislature," where the military holds 25 percent of the seats and where civilians cannot make up the 75 percent required for constitutional change because seats have not been filled, she said.

"This is a little disingenuous," she said. "This is not good enough."

Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest under military rule in Myanmar, before she was freed after controversial elections in 2010.

The democracy icon is now an opposition lawmaker as part of sweeping reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime that took office in 2011.

She was meeting EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg before heading to Strasbourg on Tuesday to pick up the EU's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize, which she won 23 years ago at the height of the Myanmar military crackdown.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131021/suu-kyi-urges-world-pressure-myanmar-leaders-reform