NLD 'in talks over Suu Kyi's eligibility for presidency'

Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends the upper house parliament session in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Feb 3, 2016.
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends the upper house parliament session in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Feb 3, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

NAYPYITAW • The democracy movement led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is negotiating with Myanmar's military over the composition of the next government, including a possible deal that would allow her to be president, two senior members of her party said.

The officials said the party had offered senior government posts to the military as part of a deal in which the military would allow Ms Suu Kyi to be president.

The precise details of the negotiations remain murky, and the party members spoke on the condition of anonymity because, in the words of one, "now is a very sensitive time".

Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the election last November by a landslide, ending five decades of military rule.

But the country's Constitution, which was written by the military, bars her from the presidency because her two children have foreign citizenship, as did her husband, who died in 1999.

The Constitution can be amended only with the consent of the military.

Relations between Ms Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner, and the military are seen as crucial to the success of her government. In addition to the lock on the Constitution, the military retains control of a quarter of the seats in Parliament and several key ministries.

Ms Suu Kyi has long desired the presidency and has campaigned to amend the Constitution to allow her to be president. During the election campaign she said she planned to have her party elect a proxy who would answer to her, putting her "above" the president.

The NLD has a solid majority in the new Parliament, which convened for the first time this week. The negotiations have been largely held in the shadows of the week's parliamentary session.

"The negotiations have been through brokers," said U Zaw Htay, a member of the government's transition team who served as a director in the office of departing President Thein Sein.

Members of Ms Suu Kyi's party have been outwardly optimistic that she will be able to become president. Mr Tin Oo, a former general and co-founder of NLD, said this week that Ms Suu Kyi would "definitely become president" .

But the military-run Myawaddy newspaper ran a commentary on Monday, the day that the new Parliament opened, saying that amending the Constitution would be against "the national interest".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 07, 2016, with the headline 'NLD 'in talks over Suu Kyi's eligibility for presidency''. Print Edition | Subscribe