RANGOON — Khin Aung Myint appears to have once again poured cold water on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s post-election prospects, after the Upper House speaker said that questions of the presidency should be considered within the “national interest”.
During an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Khin Aung Myint said that while he would like to see Suu Kyi participate in the country’s leadership, it was important for those contesting this year’s general election that the country’s future prospects were considered ahead of individual ambitions.
“We should look at this problem not from the point of one individual, but from the point of the national interest of the country,” he said. “There should not be an emphasis on one or another person over the process of deciding the fate of the country as a whole.”
The speaker’s comments come amid growing certainty from political observers that a referendum to consider amendments to the 2008 military-drafted constitution, which bars Suu Kyi from the presidency, is unlikely to occur before the election.
Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann, who is perceived to be close with Suu Kyi, said last October that Article 59(f) should be amended to allow the opposition leader to contest the presidency. The constitutional provision prevents those with close relatives in possession of foreign citizenship, as is the case with Suu Kyi’s children, from holding presidential office.
Political analyst Yan Myo Thein told The Irrawaddy that Khin Aung Myint’s more conciliatory comments about the opposition leader, along with Shwe Mann’s comments on charter reform last year, were a strategic intervention by the leadership of the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
“It is a political strategy…to receive support in creating closer relationship with the opposition leader, to make Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and observers believe that her rivals are in separate moderate and hardline factions. There is no such division between the leaders of the USDP,” he said.
Khin Aung Myint, Shwe Mann and Suu Kyi are all members of the parliamentary six-party talks, which will discuss proposals for constitutional reform. The talks commenced in April after they were proposed in November last year, and the leaders are scheduled to meet again in May.