NLD appoints Shwe Mann to head legal advisory panel

YANGON • Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party has nominated Mr Shwe Mann, one of the country's most powerful politicians, to head a prominent legal advisory panel, as the freshly elected Parliament prepares to choose a new president.

Mr Shwe Mann, the No. 3 in the junta that ran Myanmar for half a century before giving way to a semi-civilian government in 2011, grew closer to Ms Suu Kyi in the legislature's last term, becoming a key adviser after her massive election win in November.

The election, in which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won 80 per cent of the elected seats, kicked off a lengthy transition that will end on April 1, when the new government officially begins its term.

The NLD-dominated Parliament started its term this week. The appointment of Mr Shwe Mann, a former Speaker of Parliament, will allow Ms Suu Kyi to draw on his deep understanding of the army and the outgoing government to boost her firepower in the assembly.

Mr Shwe Mann, who lost to an NLD candidate in last year's polls and is not a Member of Parliament, will lead a panel on legal affairs consisting of MPs, technocrats and members of the military, who advise on legislation.

"Its duty is giving advice to the Parliament, through the Speaker, on legal and special matters," said prominent writer and political analyst Pe Myint.

The panel, formally known as the Legal Affairs and Examination of Special Matters Commission, is one Mr Shwe Mann himself set up in 2011 to tackle Parliament's lack of resources. It contributed to getting 149 laws approved, state media has said, before its term ran out last month.

Mr Shwe Mann's continued presence in Parliament could be vital for Ms Suu Kyi in the next two months as the chamber decides who will run the country. The Parliament is divided between the NLD majority and the military, which is guaranteed a quarter of the seats under the junta-drafted Constitution.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'NLD appoints Shwe Mann to head legal advisory panel'. Print Edition | Subscribe