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Suu Kyi: Constitution does not conform with 'democratic norms'

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 1:36 PM EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at National League for Democracy party headquarters in Yangon in November.
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at National League for Democracy party headquarters in Yangon in November.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Myanmar's opposition leader urges education and health care improvements
  • State TV broadcasts a campaign speech by Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time
  • Suu Kyi will participate in by-elections in Myanmar next month

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmarese opposition leader, said her country's present constitution "does not conform" with democratic norms and it should be changed where needed.

Myanmar state television broadcast for the first time an election campaign speech by the pro-democracy leader, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was under house arrest for years until she was freed more than a year ago.

Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, will participate in by-elections on April 1 after boycotting previous elections. She has been crisscrossing the country to attend election rallies.

In her speech, she decried restricting freedom of speech and choice and fostering fear and instability in people's lives. She called for respect of the rule of law.

"As long as freedom of movement and human rights are not fully achieved," democracy will not prevail, she said.

Look inside Myanmar's young 'democracy'
Aung San Suu Kyi on the campaign trail

She called for improvements in education, health care, agriculture and the lives of workers and younger people.

Suu Kyi has said that she would change the configuration of the parliament in which 25% of seats help the military establishment. She cited the presence of those nonelected officials in Wednesday's speech.

The country's election commission removed a passage from her speech because it didn't conform with current election law, Suu Kyi told a freelance reporter for CNN.

Earlier, Nyan Win, a National League for Democracy spokesman, said the passage that was removed in advance criticized the previous situation in Myanmar concerning freedom of speech and access to information.

The international community has applauded recent political reforms in Myanmar, also known as Burma, long secluded from the rest of the world after a military junta grabbed power in 1962. The generals have begun loosening their grip after international sanctions and criticism over their regime's human rights record.

The authorities released Suu Kyi from house arrest in November 2010. She registered last month to run for a parliamentary seat in Kawhmu after the regime agreed to negotiate with an ethnic rebel group and pardoned hundreds of political prisoners.

Her televised speech Wednesday is a result of Myanmar's electoral law, which requires that each political party receive appropriate time to broadcast its manifesto.

The National League for Democracy submitted candidates for all 47 seats up for grabs in the April by-elections.

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