YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has cancelled campaign rallies a week before crucial parliamentary by-elections after being taken ill while on tour, her party said on Sunday.
Suu Kyi, 66, had been vomiting as a result of air and sea sickness while in southern Myeik and was “completely exhausted”, her security officer told Reuters.
“She needs to have a good rest and save her energy,” Khun Tha Myint said.
Her National League for Democracy party, which ended its boycott of Myanmar’s army-dominated political system to run in the April 1 polls, said a March 27-28 trip to four constituencies was now cancelled on the advice of Suu Kyi’s doctor.
She was to have visited Magway division, a stronghold of the NLD and also the home of her late father, Aung San, Myanmar’s independence hero.
Suu Kyi, who spent a total of 15 years in detention from 1989-2010 because of her opposition to military rule, has been touring the country for the past two months to court support for the NLD’s campaign in the elections for 45 parliament seats.
Suu Kyi will contest a seat on the outskirts of Yangon and her decision to run for parliament is a big boost for the government seeking domestic and international acceptance for a year-old parliament that is dominated by retired or serving military.
Polls were initially due to take place in 48 constituencies, but the Election Commission cancelled ballots in three of them on Friday due to security reasons.
All were in Kachin State bordering China, where clashes between the military and ethnic Kachin militias continue unabated, despite months of efforts to reach a ceasefire deal.
The elections are seen as a critical gauge of the civilian government’s reform pledges and, if regarded as free and fair by Western countries, diplomats say it is likely more sanctions will be withdrawn as early as the end of April.
Embargoes by the United States, Canada and the European Union, among others, have limited investment in resource-rich Myanmar mostly to Asian firms, which are looking to expand in the country while Western companies remain on the sidelines.
The government blames sanctions for keeping much of Myanmar’s 60 million population in poverty, although economists say rampant corruption and the inept fiscal policies of previous military juntas were also major factors.
Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Martin Petty and Robin Pomeroy