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Suu Kyi tells Myanmar rally she is back to health

AFP Sunday, Mar 04, 2012

SAGAING, Myanmar – Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi insisted she was back to health on Sunday as she pressed on with her election campaign despite falling ill during a huge rally a day earlier.

A tired-looking Suu Kyi was hailed by crowds of well-wishers shouting “May Daw (Aunty) Suu be in good health!”, as she toured the region around the second biggest city Mandalay on her second day in the area.

“I did not feel well yesterday but because of the people’s kindness I feel better today. I am well now,” she told tens of thousands of people who had gathered to hear her speak in Sagaing city, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Mandalay.

On Saturday the 66-year-old, who is travelling with two personal doctors, was forced to take a break during her speech to more than 100,000 people – the largest crowd of her election campaign so far.

Sources from her party said she had vomited several times before returning to the stage.

Suu Kyi, whose decision to run for parliament in April 1 by-elections is seen as the clearest sign yet of reform in Myanmar, used the incident as an opportunity to discuss the policies of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

“We would like to give a better healthcare system to the people,” she said of the country’s chronically under-invested health service.

The international icon has had a punishing travel schedule ahead of the by-elections and her campaign has already taken her across the country, even though she is running for a seat in a constituency near her hometown of Yangon.

Last week she hit the campaign trail in the northernmost state of Kachin, where she appealed for unity among the country’s disparate ethnic groups and called for an immediate end to conflict between the regime and Kachin rebels.

Suu Kyi’s NLD won a landslide victory in an election in 1990 while she was under house arrest, but the ruling junta never accepted the result and she spent much of the next two decades in detention.

Myanmar’s new army-backed government has embarked on a series of dramatic changes since it replaced decades of outright military rule last year, including freeing political prisoners and trying to strike ceasefire deals with ethnic rebels.

The April vote is seen as a key test of the reforms by observers after a 2010 election was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and by the absence of Suu Kyi.

But the opposition cannot threaten the ruling party’s majority, even if it takes all 48 seats up for grabs.

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Written by Kham

04/03/2012 at 7:05 pm

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