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Aung San Suu Kyi campaigns in Burma's rural south

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's iconic pro-democracy leader, has made a campaign visit to the coastal town of Dawei ahead of by-elections on Apr. 1.

Aung san suu kyi burma 2012 18 01Enlarge
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is surrounded by supporters as she leaves the Thanlyin township election commission office after she registered to run as a candidate in upcoming by-elections, on the outskirts of Yangon on January 18, 2012. (Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's iconic pro-democracy leader, has made a campaign visit to the coastal town of Dawei ahead of by-elections on Apr. 1.

Suu Kyi, 66, used her first political trip since ending a boycott of the country's political system last year and announcing plans to run for parliament to call for changes to the military-drafted Constitution, Reuters reported.

The visit is seen as a test of how freely she and her party, National League for Democracy, are able to campaign since the military-backed government of Burma (also known as Myanmar) embarked on a cautious reform process, the BBC reported, adding that:

Thousands gathered to see the 66-year-old Nobel peace prize winner, released from house arrest in 2010.

They reportedly shouted "Long live mother Suu" and "Long Live Daw Aung San Suu Kyi!" as her motorcade moved through the region, about 380 miles south of Rangoon (Yangon), the country's main business center.

'Daw" is a title of respect in Myanmar.

The trip was only the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's fourth outside the capital since her release from years of house arrest in November 2010.

Suu Kyi was visiting Dawei was intended to help organize the NLD party there ahead of the elections, a spokesman told the BBC.

The NLD, which despite winning elections by a landslide in 1990 has had limited real political experience (the then regime ignored the result and detained many party members and supporters), is contesting all the available constituencies in the coming by-elections.

Suu Kyi herself is seeking office in the poor district of Kawhmu south of the capital devastated by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

"There are certain laws which are obstacles to the freedom of the people and we will strive to abolish these laws within the framework of the parliament," Suu Kyi reportedly told supporters outside the NLD meeting in Dawei.

She also went on to outline in great detail policies she would bring to parliament, the BBC wrote.

Apart from the constitutional changes, to reduce the military's wide-ranging powers — including the ability to appoint key cabinet members and occupy a quarter of the seats in parliament — she vowed to seek a resolution to fighting between government soldiers and ethnic minority rebels.  

According to the Associated Press, she will make similar campaign trips to the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, in early February and other areas before campaigning for her own seat.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120129/aung-san-suu-kyi-burma-myanmar-darwei-national-league-democracy