Aung San Suu Kyi among those nominated to new Myanmar Cabinet

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at a union parliament session in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on March 15, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

NAYPYITAW (AFP) - Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was nominated to join the Cabinet in Myanmar's incoming government on Tuesday (March 22), giving the democracy veteran a formal position in the administration, despite being blocked from the presidency.

The Nobel laureate, who has vowed to rule above the next president Htin Kyaw, was named first in a list of ministers read out to lawmakers by the parliament speaker, who did not specify which position she or others would hold.

"I hereby present the list of names for those who should become union ministers, proposed to the parliament by the president-elect," parliament speaker Mann Win Khaing Than told MPs.

A parliamentary vote to confirm the posts is expected later in the week.

Observers say Ms Suu Kyi is likely to take the role of foreign minister, giving her a Cabinet post, international clout and a seat at the country's influential Security Council, which is dominated by the still hugely powerful military.

Under Myanmar's complex political rules, the Cabinet role means she will likely have to forego her formal position as head of her National League for Democracy (NLD), which she led to a stunning victory in historic November elections in the culmination of a decades-long struggle against military rule.

Ms Suu Kyi, 70, is the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero and has towered over the country's politics in recent decades as the figurehead of a spirited, non-violent struggle for democracy.

Her ban from the presidency has been a thorn in the side of her party since it was allowed a space in parliament under the outgoing quasi-civilian government led by President Thein Sein, a retired general.

She is barred from the presidency by the junta-drafted constitution because her late husband, British academic Michael Aris, and her two sons are British.

Ms Suu Kyi has held several rounds of talks with army chief Min Aung Hlaing since the NLD scored a thundering majority in the elections, but was unable to remove the constitutional barrier that obstructs her path to the top political job.

The incoming president, Htin Kyaw, is seen as having absolute loyalty to Ms Suu Kyi as her long-term confidante and ally.

But his novice administration faces a raft of challenges - including conflict in ethnic minority border areas, entrenched poverty and the need to rapidly improve the country's decrepit infrastructure and long-neglected education and health services.

Another key challenge will be smoothing relations with the army that locked up Ms Suu Kyi and other NLD politicians for years during their struggle against oppressive junta rule.

The military still holds strong political sway under a charter that reserves a quarter of parliament seats for unelected soldiers and grants the army chief direct control over three key ministries; home affairs, border affairs and defence.

The new government has offered few hints about its policies, although it has set about streamlining the country's notoriously labyrinthine civil service by combining ministries and reducing the number of ministers.

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