As Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has seen her star rise and fall since independence from British colonial rule.
She was elected by parliament to the military-dominated legislature in 1990, but the ruling junta refused to let her serve out her term because of a constitutional clause that bar anyone with a foreign spouse or children from sitting in the nation’s top office.
Anti-Myanmar protests against the 1982 junta-drafted constitution, signed by then-President Ne Win, helped end in the country’s first nationwide strike in 1977, reducing her popularity even further.
As opposition leader
Suu Kyi won the 1990 election in a landslide but the junta ignored that result, citing repeated political violence. Instead, they drew up a constitution, drafted by a parliament stacked with cronies and military appointees, designed to keep Suu Kyi from being president. The clause that blocked her from the presidency for life was changed in 2008, to allow her to run for vice president.
Supporters worried that after serving just two years as one of the two vice presidents, she would be unable to return to politics because of a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution. That was a sign to Suu Kyi that the reforms she had championed would not go far enough, and she decided to challenge the constitution herself.
That challenge fell short in 2013 when she and her National League for Democracy Party, which her party had only narrowly lost in the 1990 election, lost a legal battle to change the junta-drafted constitution. But she was not discouraged and resumed her efforts to get the constitutional changes through.
During the military crackdown in Rakhine state
Suu Kyi has condemned the extrajudicial killings of hundreds of Muslim Rohingya men and boys by security forces. She has also criticized the treatment of the Rohingya. But her government has given some tacit approval to the assault on Muslim villages in northern Rakhine state and has failed to object to reports of atrocities including rape and murder by soldiers and local villagers.