Myanmar: Police guard for Aung San Suu Kyi after death threat

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives to participate in the inaugural session of Myanmar"s lower house parliament Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Suu Kyi's party won an overwhelming majority in the elections but she is barred from the presidency

Police in Myanmar have for the first time decided to give protection to Aung San Suu Kyi after a death threat.

A police chief told BBC Burmese that a special unit had now been assigned to protect the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which has just taken power in Myanmar (Burma).

The threat was issued over a possible constitutional change enabling Ms Suu Kyi to become president.

She spent many years under house arrest under the former military dictatorship.

A liberalisation process has been under way in recent years, leading to a landslide victory by Ms Suu Kyi's NLD in elections in November.

The man who made the death threat against Ms Suu Kyi has since apologised but the threat, made in a Facebook post, was taken seriously.

"I told the local police office straight away to take care of her security when I saw the post. We cannot afford anything to happen to a person of her stature," the police chief told the BBC.

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Up until now, Ms Suu Kyi has been protected by her own security detail, who will continue to guard her. Police units will provide extra protection outside her home.

The threat against her life was made amid reports Ms Suu Kyi aims to sidestep a clause in the constitution that bars her from becoming president because her two sons have foreign passports.

The man said he would kill her if the constitution was changed and had also posted pictures of himself carrying an assault rifle.

BBC Myanmar correspondent Jonah Fisher says Ms Suu Kyi appears to be planning to get her MPs to temporarily suspend the clause.

She has also reportedly been negotiating the issue with military chief General Min Aung Hlaing, whose support she would need.

The clause can be legally scrapped only through a 75%-plus-one vote in parliament but the military holds 25% of the seats - all unelected.

Ms Suu Kyi's father, national hero General Aung San, was assassinated in 1947, months before the country gained independence.

Does the NLD now control Myanmar?

Not really - it has enough seats in the upper and lower house to choose the president but the army has 25% of seats and controls key ministries, so they will need to work together.

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president?

No - the constitution, written by the military, bars people with foreign spouses or offspring, as she does, from the top job. Clause 59(f) was widely seen as being written specifically to prevent her from taking office. But Ms Suu Kyi she said repeatedly before the election she would lead the country anyway if the NLD won.

Can the NLD just change the constitution?

No - the military can veto any moves to change it.

Was the election free?

"Largely," said Ms Suu Kyi. But hundreds of thousands of people, including the minority Muslim Rohingya, were not allowed to vote, and no voting took place in seven areas where ethnic conflict is rife.