Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has called for calm after one of her party’s MPs was injured by a man wielding a sword while canvassing in Yangon ahead of next week’s general election.
Naing Ngan Lin, an MP for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), was taken to hospital with injuries to his head and hand following the attack late on Thursday in Tharketa township in his constituency.
The MP and another party member were still being treated on Friday at Yangon General Hospital, where Suu Kyi and other party officials visited them.
Witnesses said a man who appeared to be drunk and was brandishing a sword attacked the group, along with several other unarmed men.
“Naing Ngan Linn tried to stop him … that’s why he sustained many injuries,” said another NLD candidate, Thet Htar Nwe Win, who witnessed the incident.
At least two people had been arrested, he said.
Naing Ngan Linn’s wife, Khin Sandar Win, said he had wounds on his forehead, hands and wrists, and had had an operation on Thursday, but his condition was not life-threatening.
“It happened in front of my eyes. The man who attacked was shouting abusive words against NLD when our vehicle arrived,” she said.
The NLD called on members to campaign with “continued momentum” as it prepares for the November 8 polls.
“We call on all NLD members around the country not to respond in any way to the violence in Tharketa to ensure that the coming elections pass peacefully,” the party’s election committee said in a statement.
The NLD is contesting a nationwide election for the first time since 1990, when it won convincingly only for the ruling military to refuse to hand over power and arrest Suu Kyi. It boycotted the last general election, in November 2010, when Suu Kyi was under house arrest.
That election was won by the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is close to the military, and Suu Kyi was released six days later.
Since then, the quasi-civilian government has enacted a range of reforms to open up the once-isolated country. Suu Kyi’s face stares from election posters and her image is printed on T-shirts and other memorabilia.
In three months, the national assembly will choose a president. But even if the NLD wins the election, Suu Kyi will not be able to take the top job due to a clause in the constitution that bars anyone with a spouse or children who are citizens of a foreign country from the office. Her late husband was British, as are her two sons.
Analysts say the provision was probably written specifically to stop her becoming president.
A quarter of parliamentary seats are reserved for the army, making it unlikely that the NLD will win enough seats to amend the constitution.