Suu Kyi un­likely to be Myan­mar pres­i­dent

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Myan­mar No­bel lau­re­ate Aung San Suu Kyi's decades-long bat­tle to bring democ­racy to Myan­mar is likely to come to fruition on Thurs­day - but with a whim­per rather than a bang. De­spite lead­ing her party to a smash­ing elec­tion vic­tory last year, Suu Kyi most likely will not be­come her coun­try's leader, thanks to a con­sti­tu­tional bar­rier.

This means that af­ter years of strug­gle and sac­ri­fice by Suu Kyi and her le­gions of fol­low­ers, it will be as much an an­ti­cli­max as a his­tor­i­cal wa­ter­shed when her Na­tional League for Democ­racy party takes over the reins of govern­ment April 1 from the mil­i­tary-backed party that's been in power since 2011.

The iden­tity of the new pres­i­dent will, how­ever, be­come known Thurs­day, when the up­per and lower houses of par­lia­ment and the mil­i­tary bloc that holds a con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated 25 per­cent of seats nom­i­nate one can­di­date each. Mem­bers of par­lia­ment will then vote later this month to elect one of them pres­i­dent, while the other two will be­come vice pres­i­dents.

The long de­lay be­tween the Novem­ber elec­tions and the ap­point­ments has made the guess­ing game of who will be­come pres­i­dent into some­thing of a na­tional pas­time among a pub­lic giddy with the com­ing of a freely elected civil­ian govern­ment af­ter more than 50 years of mil­i­tary rule. "Most peo­ple are so in­ter­ested in this," said Chit Win, a 61-year-old Naypyitaw res­i­dent. "We will fi­nally know for sure on the 10th!"

The pres­i­dent is cer­tain to be from Suu Kyi's party since it holds ma­jori­ties in both cham­bers of par­lia­ment, giv­ing it the right to make two nom­i­na­tions, as well as the num­bers to pick the win­ner.

Suu Kyi, 70, can­not be pres­i­dent be­cause the con­sti­tu­tion bars any­one with a for­eign spouse or chil­dren from hold­ing the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice. Suu Kyi's two sons are Bri­tish, as was her late hus­band. No prob­lem, Suu Kyi said af­ter her party's mas­sive elec­tion vic­tory in Novem­ber. She made it clear that she would be the one pulling the strings in the new govern­ment. The 1991 No­bel Peace Prize win­ner ex­plained what she meant in an in­ter­view with the BBC two days af­ter the elec­tion.

"Well, I'll make all the de­ci­sions, it's as sim­ple as all that," she said, dis­miss­ing con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments as a tech­ni­cal­ity "that won't stop me from mak­ing all the de­ci­sions as the leader of the win­ning party."

"The pres­i­dent will be told ex­actly what he can do," she said the same day in an in­ter­view with Sin­ga­pore's Chan­nel NewsAsia.

Political an­a­lyst Toe Kyaw Hlaing pre­dicted that the peo­ple won't have a prob­lem with that ar­range­ment.

"The pub­lic voted for change, so now the pub­lic wants a pure civil­ian pres­i­dent," he told The As­so­ci­ated Press. "So when the civil­ian pres­i­dent comes to power, I think the pub­lic will sup­port him, and the pub­lic may not care whether he is a proxy pres­i­dent or not." The terms that Suu Kyi has laid out for the new pres­i­dent in­di­cate that per­sonal loy­alty to her will be a key at­tribute.

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