Myanmar's powerful state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to amend the junta-written constitution as she reached out to minority ethnic groups. Underscoring the ongoing democratic transition, the de facto head of state was addressing the nation on the Buddhist new year.
The Nobel peace laureate urged the Myanmar people to pin their hopes on democracy, which emerged from decades-long total junta or quasi-military rule.
In her televised address, she said: "Our policies and principles are to ensure national reconciliation, internal peace, the rule of law, amendments to the constitution and keeping the democratic system dynamic. The constitution needs to be one that will give birth to a genuine democratic union. We need constitutional amendments."
Myanmar crawled out of military-backed rule to a full-fledged democracy after hard-fought elections, which were won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD). Though Suu Kyi was the primary face during the election campaign, she is constitutionally barred from assuming the presidency so a fresh position named state counsellor was specially carved out for her.
The current constitution was drafted by the military rulers in 2008 and gives sweeping powers to the administration. Despite the NLD's landmark win, the military wields considerable influence in the country.
Assuring that her government will be cautious about policies relating to ethnic minorities, especially Rohingya Muslims – who remain mostly stateless – she promised "the most important this is national reconciliation".
"Being democratically elected by the people, our government is responsible for all citizens, treating everyone equally with love and compassion. That's why we give a high priority to national reconciliation. We'll continue to build a genuine federal democratic union, longed for by the entire people," Suu Kyi said in her first major remarks since the takeover.