RANGOON — A range of political parties in Burma have welcomed remarks by Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a resounding victory in the Nov. 8 general election, that her administration would include ethnic minorities and members of other political parties among its cabinet and promote national reconciliation.
Sai Leik, a spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), said the party was optimistic about greater minority representation in the future government.
“In the current government, ethnic representatives were included just for show, but they have no authority,” Sai Leik told The Irrawaddy. “Though we can’t tell exactly how many ethnic representatives will be included in the new cabinet, we hope we can be much more involved than in the past.”
The NLD secured 886 out of more than 1,100 seats at play in the election, including 390 in the Union Parliament—enough to exceed the 329-seat majority required to select the next president.
Speaking to Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service on Thursday, party leader Suu Kyi vowed to appoint a diverse cabinet of responsible leaders.
“We will include ethnic representatives who are not NLD members, and others who can benefit the country,” Suu Kyi told Radio Free Asia, adding that those ministers selected from among the party’s ranks will be trusted officials that will not abuse power.
“The government formed by the NLD needs to be in harmony with the military, and also must collaborate with the ethnic groups. It will be convenient for everyone because the military and ethnic representatives all need to be involved for ethnic unity, national reconciliation and ending civil war,” Sai Leik said of Suu Kyi’s comments.
The SNLD spokesperson pointed out that regional governance could be a key area where the NLD could choose to empower minorities, but he was not optimistic that the party would cede such power. State and divisional chief ministers, the highest sub-national executive posts, are directly appointed by the president. Appointing Arakanese state ministers in western Burma, he offered as an example, would facilitate national reconciliation.
Khin Maung Swe, whose National Democratic Force (NDF) did not secure a single seat, said Suu Kyi’s promise would go a long way to prove her commitment to creating a true federal union, stating that “it’s obvious how much emphasis she is putting on national reconciliation.”
Two days after the poll, as the election results began to confirm the landslide win, Suu Kyi requested to meet with President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann in the spirit of reconciliation.
Both Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have agreed to meet with Suu Kyi in December, once the electoral process has concluded. Shwe Mann met with Suu Kyi on Nov. 15 in the capital, Naypyidaw, where she indicated her willingness to work with the outgoing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and other political stakeholders.
Independent analyst Yan Myo Thein told the Irrawaddy that the NLD government is expected to build its legacy on national reconciliation, which would require a fair bit of compromise with other parties.
“If they can include the leaders and representatives from the ethnic political parties in their government, the NLD can build trust and understanding between themselves and the ethnic parties—both in and outside parliamentary politics,” Yan Myo Thein said, predicting that the new government will likely also include members of the USDP and the armed forces.