Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi campaigns in western Rakhine State, as her opposition movement faces stiff competition from a powerful nationalist party that's riding a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. Mana Rabiee reports.
(cheers from crowds and Suu Kyi campaigning) Nobel peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is campaigning hard for votes, ahead of Myanmar's landmark parliamentary elections. She's trying to build support for some 1,100 candidates her National League for Democracy party is fielding for the November 8 vote ... billed as the nation's first free and fair ballot in 25 years. But amid the enthusiasm ... simmering concern ... that race and religion could dominate the vote. (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) 70-YEAR-OLD MUSLIM BURMESE, DAW HLA KHIN (LEFT), SAYING: "I want Suu Kyi to bring peace among us and stay with us to solve problems of (apartheid). I want this for my son, grandsons, great grandsons in the future." Apartheid.. the term some are using to describe the status of minority Muslims in this mostly Buddhist nation. Hard-liners accuse Suu Kyi and her party of being too sympathetic to Myanmar's marginalized Rohingya Muslims ... and not sympathetic enough with issues facing the Buddhists. This, even though none of her candidates is a Muslim, and that she's being criticized elsewhere for saying too little about the plight of the displaced and persecuted Rohingya. Suu Kyi is urging her supporters not to mix religion and politics, and says those who do, face punishment. (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY LEADER, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, SAYING: "Most people do not know that using things of religious or racial nature in the political campaigns is against the law." Suu Kyi's party is bracing against a a formidable opponent in the Arakan National Party which has been bolstered by a wave of nationalism and the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment.