Reports hint Suu Kyi could become Myanmar president

  • AP, Naypyitaw
  • Updated: Feb 08, 2016 14:22 IST
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi walks along with lawmakers of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to attend the inauguration session of Union Parliament Monday. (AP)

Two pro-government television channels say that “positive results” could come out of negotiations between Myanmar’s military chief and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on suspending a constitutional clause that prevents her from becoming the president.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party(NLD) won a landslide victory in the November 8 general elections. But she is barred from becoming president because of the Constitution’s Article 59 (f), which says anyone with a foreign spouse or children cannot hold the executive office. Suu Kyi’s late husband was British as are her two sons.

In separate but identical broadcasts late Sunday, Sky Net and Myanmar National Television said “positive results could come out on the negotiation for the suspension of the constitution Article 59 (f).”

Suu Kyi has been negotiating with commander-in-chief General Min Aung Hlaing on having the clause suspended, which can be legally removed only through a two-thirds vote in Parliament.

The military holds 25% of the nominated seats in Parliament, which means the NLD cannot scrap the clause on its own.

“I think everything will be fine,” Kyaw Htwe, a member of central committee of the NLD, told The Associated Press. “The negotiations will be positive for our leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become president,” said Kyaw Htwe, who is also a member of Parliament.

But Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst, advised caution.

“It is still too early to confirm that Suu Kyi will be among the presidential candidate,” he said. “Even the suspension and the constitutional amendment will take time. And we cannot really comment relying only on a short announcement on TV,” he said.

Suu Kyi has said previously that even if she doesn’t become the president she would run the country from behind the scenes. But clearly, the NLD would prefer the 70-year-old icon of democracy to lead the country, having struggled almost all her life for it.

On Friday, a legal advisory committee consisting of experts and members of the lower house was launched, led by Shwe Mann, the former head of the military-tied Union Solidarity and Development Party. One of the few Suu Kyi allies in the defeated ruling party, Shwe Mann is believed to be supportive of a constitutional change.

Although national elections were in November, the president does not take office until March 31 or April 1 because of a long-winded selection process.

The new members of parliament took their oaths of office only this month. Next, they will announce the date of meetings to pick three nominees for the post of president through a vote by all members of parliament. It is not known when the vote will take place.

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