Suspense is building for the Myanmar elections April 1. Will democracy fighter and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi finally get an official voice in her country, formerly known as Burma? The US can help freedom emerge in Myanmar through pressure and a new ambassador.
It’s expected that she’ll win a seat in parliament and gain the victory that was snatched from her in 1990 by military rulers – which would be a stunning political comeback.
Less certain is whether her party members will win enough of the other 47 open seats to make a difference in governance. This tightly controlled country is now inching toward greater freedoms, though this week, the government said it was postponing elections in three constituencies in the Kachin district because of security concerns.
Speaking today to foreign election observers and journalists, Ms. Suu Kyi said that the elections – which will fill only a small number of seats in the parliament – would not be free or fair by democratic standards. But she vowed to continue with her candidacy for the sake of her country.
While in Myanmar recently, I found my way to a campaign rally for Suu Kyi in a dusty suburb of Yangon (formerly Rangoon). Since she has spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, it was a rare opportunity. As she often warns supporters, certain elements in the military could revoke recent steps toward openness at any moment.
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