Suu Kyi, army chief in transition talks again

NAYPYITAW • Ms Aung San Suu Kyi met Myanmar's army chief for the third time since her National League for Democracy (NLD) swept last year's elections, officials said yesterday, heightening speculation that the military may hold sway over the selection of the next president.

Ms Suu Kyi, barred from the country's top office by the junta- era Constitution, has exactly one month before her party needs to put forward candidates for a president who will take power in April.

Multiple rounds of talks have been held between the key players in the delicate political transition from army rule. But the talks have taken place behind closed doors, with Ms Suu Kyi, the outgoing President and the army chief coy about the hard details of their discussions.

Myanmar's army confirmed that the Nobel Peace laureate and military leader Min Aung Hlaing "met and held discussions" at army headquarters in Naypyitaw yesterday. It released photos of Ms Suu Kyi smiling in a post on the Facebook page of the office of the army chief.

"They discussed the rule of law and the ongoing process to create a lasting peace in a friendly and open way," the Facebook post said.

Ms Suu Kyi's doctor Tin Myo Win was also present - the second time he has sat in on meetings with the army chief. He is said to be a leading candidate for the presidency if Ms Suu Kyi cannot cut a deal with the army to change the Charter.

She is barred from the role because she married and had children with a foreigner.

Many hope a new NLD government will finally mark the end of the army's grip on the country, spur an economic revival and usher in a new era of political freedom and accountability. But the party nurses painful memories of its 1990 electoral landslide victory that was ignored by the generals, who went on to renew their repressive rule for a further two decades.

Outgoing President Thein Sein, who cancelled a high-profile visit to the United States this week to oversee the transition, did not attend the talks yesterday.

"We know about their meeting but the President does not have a plan to see (Ms Suu Kyi) in the coming days," said the director of his office.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Suu Kyi, army chief in transition talks again'. Print Edition | Subscribe