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TRANSITION

‘Future Leader’ Suu Kyi Wins Than Shwe’s Support: Grandson

Ex-dictator Than Shwe pledges to support NLD chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi “as best he can” if she genuinely works for the development of Burma.


RANGOON — As more information trickles out about Friday’s meeting between National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s ex-dictator Than Shwe, the latter is said to have pledged to support for the pro-democracy leader “as best he can” if she genuinely works for the development of the country.

“After winning the election, it’s the reality all have to accept—that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be Burma’s future leader,” the former senior general was quoted as saying, according to a brief posting of the meeting’s minutes to the Facebook account of Than Shwe’s grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung.

There was no indication as to what “future leader” might mean, in the context of a political system that constitutionally bars Suu Kyi from the presidency because her late husband and two sons are foreign nationals.

Suu Kyi’s NLD trounced the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Burma’s Nov. 8 general election and will have the votes needed to select Burma’s next president, though the party has not revealed who its candidate for the post might be in light of Suu Kyi’s ineligibility. The USDP was founded with the blessing of Than Shwe, who put the Nobel laureate under house arrest for more than a decade while he was in power from 1992 to 2011.

Friday’s meeting took place at Than Shwe’s residence in Naypyidaw and lasted more than two hours. Nay Shwe Thway Aung said he released the information after having received permission from both participants.

In the Facebook post, Suu Kyi was also quoted as saying that she held no grudge that could damage the best interests of the country.

“For the success of establishing [a brighter] future for Burma, I want to talk to Snr-Gen Than Shwe for all-inclusive collaboration, including with the Tatmadaw [Burma Army],” the readout off the meeting’s minutes says.

The former junta leader’s grandson also met with Suu Kyi in the capital last month, though the content of that discussion has not been revealed.

Two days prior to Friday’s sit-down with Than Shwe, Suu Kyi had separate meetings with President Thein Sein and Burma Army commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing to discuss how to ensure a smooth transfer of power and cooperation with the outgoing government and military establishment.

Win Htein, an NLD central committee member, told The Irrawaddy on Sunday that Suu Kyi met Than Shwe as the talks with him may be helpful for national reconciliation, establishing a federal, democratic union and amending Burma’s military-drafted Constitution, given that the former senior general is believed to still wield a degree of influence with the outgoing government and army.

“Now the situation is clearer than before. It seems certain that a hopeful and better future is ahead of us,” Win Htein said.