News / Asia

Thousands Rally Behind Suu Kyi on Burma Campaign Trail

Burmese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, center, speaks to supporters at Kaw-Hmu constituency for election campaign, in Rangoon, Burma, February 11, 2012.
Burmese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, center, speaks to supporters at Kaw-Hmu constituency for election campaign, in Rangoon, Burma, February 11, 2012.

Thousands of people lined streets in Burma, waving flags and banners for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 66, as she took her campaign for parliament on the road.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate made her way south from Rangoon to the rural township of Kawhmu.

At a speech in one village Saturday, she told supporters it will not be easy but that they will be able to achieve peace and stability if they continue to work for the cause.

Aung San Suu Kyi is running for parliament after spending years under house arrest for defying Burma's former military junta.  She hopes to win one of 48 parliamentary seats vacated by lawmakers who were appointed to the Cabinet and other posts in the government in last year's transition from military to civilian rule.

Earlier this week, the opposition leader traveled to the Irrawaddy delta for the first time since 1989, in an attempt to round up support for her party in upcoming by-elections.

But even if her National League for Democracy party sweeps the polls in April, it has no chance of winning a majority in the 440-seat lower house of Parliament. The lawmaking body is heavily weighted with military appointees and allies of the former ruling military government.

Burma's current military-backed civilian government has undertaken a series of dramatic political reforms since taking power last March, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners, the holding of peace talks with ethnic rebels and the allowance of greater press freedoms.

But even as Burma pushes ahead with reforms, there are renewed reports of fighting between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels near the Chinese border.

A Reuters news agency reporter visited two border camps Friday, now home to thousands of refugees.  The news agency says many of the refugees accused the Burmese military of rape and indiscriminate killings.

Reuters reported that some Chinese media reports say at least 40,000 refugees have crossed the border, though the Chinese government says the actual number is less.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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