Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she wants to become her country's next president in 2015, when national elections are planned as part of an ongoing transition from decades of military rule.
The Nobel Peace Laureate spoke to delegates attending Thursday's World Economic Forum meeting in Burma's administrative capital, Naypyitaw. It was her most explicit comment about her political ambitions to date.
"I want to run for president, and I am quite frank about it. If I pretended that I did not want to be president, I would not be honest. And I would rather be honest with my people than otherwise. But, the president is not directly elected. For me to be eligible for the post of the presidency, the constitution will have to be amended,'' she said.
More political reforms needed
Burma's longtime military rulers surrendered power in 2011, ushering in a civilian government which allowed Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy party to win parliamentary seats in 2012 by-elections. She had previously endured 15 years of house arrest under military rule.
But, the military-drafted Burmese constitution effectively disqualified her from the presidency by stating that anyone who serves in the post cannot have a spouse or children who are foreign nationals. Aung San Suu Kyi's two sons with her late husband Michael Aris are British. The constitution also requires the president to have military experience, which the opposition leader lacks.
Speaking to reporters at the forum, Aung San Suu Kyi said amendments to major constitutional clauses need more than 75 percent approval in both houses of parliament, where one quarter of lawmakers are unelected military representatives. She said the amendments then would have to be approved in a referendum by more than 50 percent of eligible voters.
"As I keep saying, at least one brave soldier must say 'I will side with the civilian representatives.' And I think it was in an RAF [Royal Air Force] outfit somewhere I heard that during the second world war they had a motto which was that we do the impossible every day. Miracles take a little longer," she said.
Aung San Suu Kyi's popularity in Burma has caused her to overshadow incumbent President Thein Sein, a former general who also addressed the forum on Thursday. He said his government is "working hard to move from military rule to democracy" and is committed to other goals such as ending ethnic conflicts and reforming the economy.
Job creation is top priority
In her news conference, Aung San Suu Kyi responded to a question from VOA's Burmese service about unemployment by saying the creation of new jobs is the top priority expressed by people across the country.
"They want work, they don't want handouts," she said. "They want the dignity of being able to work for their own living. Number one is jobs, number two is water, number three is roads, number four is electricity, number five is education, number six is health. This is repeated everywhere, everywhere. And so jobs are a priority, especially jobs for our youth."
She said that in her constituency of Kawmhu, near the Burmese commercial capital Rangoon, graduate unemployment stands at 75 percent, a figure that is close to the national average. The NLD leader said that if young unemployed people lose hope in the future, they will become a social problem for the country.