Myanmar president calls for cautious approach to charter change

Myanmar President Thein Sein voiced concern Thursday over the constitutional amendment sought by the main opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, warning it could end up in "a political impasse" if the stakeholders fail to make the right decisions.

In his monthly public radio address, Thein Sein said, "I believe that a healthy Constitution must be amended from time to time" to address national, economic, and social needs.

Myanmar's Constitution was adopted in 2008 when the country was still under the military rule. It has been criticized for its undemocratic and pro-military tones and has been under review for a revision since July.

The Constitution also bars Suu Kyi, 68, from becoming a presidential candidate, because her close relatives are foreign citizens. The widow of a British academic, Suu Kyi has two sons who are British nationals.

Thein Sein said he prefers every citizen to have the right to become the leader of the country, but calls for caution in effecting a change in the Constitution in the interest of the nation.

"I would not want restrictions being imposed on the right of any citizen to become the leader of the country. At the same time, we will need to have all necessary measures in place in order to defend our national interests and sovereignty," the president said.

"In trying to solve the ongoing political differences, we must all choose to do the right things in order not to fall into political impasse," Thein Sein said.

Current issues such as the government's undertaking of the peace process with ethnic minorities and establishing a political dialogue "may require the amending, or revision of the Constitution," he added.

The transcript of his address was published in the state-run The New Light of Myanmar daily.

Suu Kyi and her party National League for Democracy has been campaigning in recent months with support from the public and the international community for the amendment package that includes removing the clause that disqualifies Suu Kyi as a presidential candidate.