Pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees to be named March 17

Mizzima Business Weekly - - COMMENTARY -

Myan­mar will not dis­cover who its new pres­i­dent will be un­til at least mid-March, an of­fi­cial said Fe­bru­ary 8, as spec­u­la­tion swirls over who will serve as proxy for democ­racy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The cut off point for pres­i­den­tial can­di­date pro­pos­als will be March 17, Win Khaing Than, the speaker of Myan­mar’s com­bined houses of par­lia­ment told law­mak­ers.

That means vot­ers will have waited more than four months to dis­cover who the new pres­i­dent will be af­ter they de­liv­ered a thump­ing vic­tory for Suu Kyi’s Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD) party in land­mark Novem­ber polls.

Suu Kyi is cur­rently barred from top political of­fice by a junta-era con­sti­tu­tion be­cause her chil­dren and spouse were for­eign born.

The an­nounce­ment pro­longs anx­i­ety over who will take over the pres­i­dency from out­go­ing gen­eral-turned-re­former Thein Sein at the end of March, as Myan­mar looks to shrug off decades of mil­i­tary dom­i­na­tion.

Suu Kyi has in­sisted her party’s sweep­ing vic­tory gives her a man­date to rule “above” the next pres­i­dent. She has yet to in­di­cate her choice of proxy leader. Ob­servers see her ret­i­cence to name a can­di­date as a sign that she and se­nior NLD fig­ures are locked in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the mil­i­tary to cut some sort of deal that might al­low her to rule.

Myan­mar’s army has an ef­fec­tive veto on any con­sti­tu­tional change and has pub­licly re­buffed all at­tempts at its al­ter­ation.

“(The mil­i­tary) will never change their po­si­tion,” in­for­ma­tion min­is­ter Ye Htut said. The for­mer army of­fi­cer, who is the spokesman for the out­go­ing quasi-civil­ian govern­ment, said the army will ad­here closely to the con­sti­tu­tion.

Three pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates will be nom­i­nated, one by each of the lower and up­per cham­bers and one from the army, which re­tains 25 per­cent of par­lia­ment’s seats.

The new pres­i­dent will then be cho­sen by a vote of the com­bined houses, which are dom­i­nated by an over­all NLD ma­jor­ity.

Suu Kyi last week said it was “not yet time to form a govern­ment”, urg­ing peo­ple not to be “anx­ious”.

The No­bel lau­re­ate, 70, met army chief Min Aung Hlaing days be­fore her party took up its par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity on Fe­bru­ary 1 to dis­cuss the tran­si­tion.

As fevered spec­u­la­tion takes hold, broad­casts in state­backed me­dia last week ap­peared to sug­gest a break­through in talks, only to cor­rect the re­port on Fe­bru­ary 8 say­ing it re­flected the per­sonal views of some MPs.

Vot­ers are keenly aware that in 1990 Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary sim­ply ig­nored a land­slide elec­toral vic­tory by the NLD, ush­er­ing in a re­newed and par­tic­u­larly bru­tal pe­riod of rule that lasted more than two decades.


Law­mak­ers en­ter­ing Par­lia­ment in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

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