Myanmar Speculation Mounts Over Suu Kyi ‘President Move’


Ms Suu Kyi & President Thein Sein

The Burmese parliament has announced it will begin electing a new president on 17 March.

The delay comes amid a transition of power from the military-controlled government to the party of former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.

No official reason has been given, but it has fuelled speculation that Ms Suu Kyi is in talks over taking the job.

She is currently barred from the presidency because her two sons have foreign passports.

Ms Suu Kyi’s plan appears to be to sidestep the clause that bars her from the presidency by getting her MPs to temporarily suspend it, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

She has reportedly been negotiating the issue with military chief General Min Aung Hlaing. The clause can be legally scrapped only through a 75%-plus-one vote in parliament.

The military holds 25% of seats in parliament – all unelected – which means Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party cannot scrap the clause on its own.

But the clause can be suspended by a simple majority – although any such move could be challenged as both illegal and unconstitutional, our correspondent says.

Under the constitution, the upper house, lower house and the military will have to select one candidate each for president and for the two vice-presidents.


Given that the NLD has a majority in both houses, it is certain to get the president’s post and one of the vice-presidential positions.

A new president does not have to be in place before April, but the process of choosing outgoing President Thein Sein’s successor was expected to begin after the new parliament convened a week ago.

‘Too early’

The NLD won a landslide victory in the November general elections. But Ms Suu Kyi has been blocked from the presidency by the Constitution’s Article 59 (f), which says anyone with a foreign spouse or children cannot hold the executive office.

Ms Suu Kyi’s late husband was British, as are her two sons.

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

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

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

He said: “It is still too early to confirm that Ms Suu Kyi will be among the presidential candidates. Even the suspension and the constitutional amendment will take time.”

Myanmar was ruled with an iron fist by a military junta for 50 years, until the military stood back in 2010 to allow a quasi-civilian government to take over.