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Activists join Suu Kyi for Myanmar charter change

YANGON, Myanmar -- Democracy activists in Myanmar joined opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday in calling for constitutional amendments ahead of next year's general elections.

Thousands of party supporters and leaders of prominent student activist groups, including the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, turned out at the rally in the main city of Yangon.

Suu Kyi said that the current constitution needs to be amended to meet democratic norms and for elections to be free and fair.

Currently, the law says that the charter cannot be changed without more than 75 percent approval from the parliament. With the military holding 25 seats, they can veto any such move and prevent Suu Kyi from becoming president because her sons are British nationals.

An article in the constitution says anyone whose spouse or children owes allegiance to a foreign power cannot become president or vice president.

Suu Kyi has been holding rallies to gain public support and to convince the military and the government to change their opposition to amending the constitution.

Several other provisions are also under scrutiny for revision, and some proposed changes would strengthen self-government in regions of the country dominated by ethnic minorities.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party boycotted the 2010 election, but successfully contested by-elections in 2012 after electoral reforms were implemented, with Suu Kyi winning a seat in the lower house.

Myanmar emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, when former general Thein Sein took office as an elected prime minister. However, the military is allotted a fixed percentage of seats in the legislature.

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Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi gestures while speaking during a public rally in Yangon, Myanmar on Saturday, May 17. (AP)

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