Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to journalists during the press conference in her residence in Yangon, Myanmar Friday, March 30, 2012. Suu Kyi said Friday that Myanmar's weekend elections will be neither free nor fair because of widespread irregularities, but vowed to press forward with her candidacy for the sake of the country. (AP Photo)
(AP) Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday that Myanmar's weekend elections will be neither free nor fair because of widespread irregularities, but vowed to press forward with her candidacy for the sake of the country.
Suu Kyi said opposition candidates had been targeted in stone-throwing incidents and other intimidation that hampered their campaigning in the run-up to Sunday by-elections that are considered a crucial test of Myanmar's commitment to democratic reforms.
The 66-year-old Nobel peace laureate told a news conference that the irregularities go "beyond what is acceptable for democratic elections."
"I don't think we can consider it genuinely free and fair if we consider what has been going on for the last couple months," Suu Kyi said. "We've had to face many irregularities."
She said there were attempts to injure candidates and cited two cases in which stones or other objects were thrown at members of her opposition National League for Democracy, causing one of the party's security guards to be hospitalized.
There were "many, many cases of intimidation" and vandalism of party campaign posters.
She blamed some of the acts on "people in official positions."
Despite the irregularities, Suu Kyi said that the party is "determined to go forward because we think that is what our people want."
The by-election is likely to mark a symbolic turning point by bringing Suu Kyi into parliament for the first time, an event that would raise hopes for a more representative government after a half century of repressive military rule.
The by-election will fill 45 vacant seats in Myanmar's 664-seat national parliament.
A victory by Suu Kyi and the opposition would do little to alter the balance of power in parliament but would give her a voice in government for the first time.