Asia

Suu Kyi 'will be above president' if NLD wins Myanmar election

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Media captionAung San Suu Kyi: "I'll run the government and we'll have a president who will work in accordance with the policies of the NLD"

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said she would be "above the president" if her National League for Democracy wins Sunday's election.

The NLD is widely expected to do well in the election, but Ms Suu Kyi is banned from taking the role of president by the constitution.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Yangon says her comment was her strongest assertion yet that she intends to govern anyway.

The elections will be Myanmar's first openly contested polls in 25 years.

More than 90 parties are standing in the first national elections since a nominally civilian government took power in the country, also known as Burma, in 2011.

On the campaign trail: the BBC's Jonathan Head in the town of Hinthada

Image copyright AP

Ms Suu Kyi told the news conference in Yangon (Rangoon), her last before polls open: "If we win and the NLD forms a government I will be above the president. It's a very simple message."

She said there was nothing in the constitution which prevented this.

Clause 58 in Myanmar's constitution, however, states that the president "takes precedence over all other persons" in the country.

Ms Suu Kyi cannot be president herself as the constitution bars candidates with foreign spouses or children. Her two sons hold British passports.

The 2008 constitution sets out a complex process whereby parliament chooses Myanmar's president - the upper house, lower house and unelected army representatives each put forward candidates.

Whoever wins most votes in a joint session of the three groups becomes president, with the two losers vice-presidents.

Who Ms Suu Kyi might choose as the NLD candidate for president remains unclear.

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Media captionThe NLD need to maximise their popular support as a quarter of the seats in the election are reserved for the military

Analysis: Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Yangon

This is a bold statement from Aung San Suu Kyi.

She's trying to reassure her supporters that voting for the National League for Democracy is the same as a vote for her. Vote NLD - get Suu Kyi.

But further down the line it could turn out to be a blunder.

The idea that someone could be "above" the president goes against both the letter and spirit of the 2008 Burmese constitution.

Clause 58 is pretty clear. "The president… takes precedence over all other persons throughout the Republic of the Union of Myanmar."

So there are clear constitutional issues if Suu Kyi thinks she's "above" the president and is going to give them orders.

For now it may not seem important. But if the NLD do win a landslide on Sunday some may start looking for reasons to legally challenge the result.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Suu Kyi has been the face of the NLD's campaign for this election

Ms Suu Kyi criticised the electoral process so far, saying it had been less than totally free and fair and that the electoral commission had failed to deal with irregularities.

She also briefly touched on the Rohingya, the persecuted mostly Muslim minority who Myanmar says are not citizens and who do not have a vote.

Ms Suu Kyi has been criticised for not speaking out on the issue, but in her news conference she said the situation should not be exaggerated.

The constitution of Myanmar grants the military at least 25% of parliamentary seats.

The NLD and any allies will need to win at least two-thirds of the remaining seats in order to choose the next president.

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