MYEIK, MYANMAR: Ill health forced Ms Aung San Suu Kyi to abruptly cancel further campaign travel, her party said Sunday, just a week before Myanmar by-elections that are seen as a key test of regime reforms.
The Nobel laureate, who is running for a seat in Parliament in the April 1 polls, was put on a drip and ordered to rest by her personal doctor after falling ill in the town of Myeik in the far south of Myanmar.
But the democracy icon pressed ahead with a final rally in the remote area on Sunday and was cheered by tens of thousands of people as she urged supporters to vote for her National League for Democracy party, according to an AFP photographer at the scene. "I'm trying to keep in good health," she told the crowd.
The NLD deputy information officer, Mr Kyi Toe said Suu Kyi's health had "deteriorated" during the trip and she now planned to return to her home in Yangon later on Sunday.
"According to the advice of her family doctor Tin Myo Win, she will take a rest at home. She should not travel far for trips anymore," he said.
He further said she has now scrapped plans for a final campaign trip on Tuesday to Magway, the central Myanmar region where her independence hero father was born.
Ms Suu Kyi fell ill on Saturday after the boat she was travelling in got stuck on a sandbank for several hours during a trip in the far south of the country, Mr Tin Myo Win said earlier on Sunday."She is exhausted because of being on the boat for such a long time," he said, adding that she had low blood pressure and had been vomiting. Ms Suu Kyi has fallen ill once before during her gruelling schedule of rallies and speeches across the country.
The polls are the first time the democracy icon has been able to stand for election in Myanmar and are viewed as a key test of the new government's commitment to budding reforms that have surprised observers of the country, which has been dominated by the military for decades.
Suu Kyi's NLD party won a landslide victory in an election in 1990 while she was under house arrest, but the ruling junta never recognised the result and she spent much of the next two decades in detention.
The next election in 2010 swept the army's political allies to power but was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and by the absence of Ms Suu Kyi, who was again under house arrest and released a few days later.
But a new nominally civilian regime has implemented sweeping changes, including welcoming Ms Suu Kyi's party back into mainstream politics and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.
The NLD cannot threaten the ruling party's majority even with a strong result in the April vote.But experts believe the regime wants the pro-democracy leader to win a place in Parliament to give its reform drive legitimacy and encourage the West to ease sanctions.