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Leader: The power of the powerless

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and politician who has spent much of the past two decades under house arrest, finally had the chance to stand for election on 2 April. ‘‘We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era, where there will be more emphasis on the rule of the people in the everyday politics of our country,” she said in Rangoon after her party won 40 of the 45 seats contested in Burma’s by-election.

Despite her triumph, there is far to go – the military still dominates parliament. But Suu Kyi, in her patience and fortitude, has shown that she is, as the Nobel committee chairman put it when awarding her the Peace Prize in 1991, “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”.

This article first appeared in the 09 April 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Spring Double Issue