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Politics

Shwe Mann Supports Change to Make Suu Kyi Eligible for Presidency

Burma’s Union Parliament speaker says the Constitution should be amended to create an opportunity for democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become president.


NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s Union Parliament speaker says the Constitution should be amended to create an opportunity for democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to become president.

Shwe Mann told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the government should allow Parliament to change a section of the charter that currently bars the Nobel Peace Prize laureate from the job.

“To have a free and fair election in 2015, I have to say we should amend Section 59F of the Constitution,” he said at a press conference in Naypyidaw, responding to a question about constitutional restrictions for the presidency.

Section 59F of Burma’s 2008 Constitution says anyone who has a spouse or children who are foreign citizens are not eligible for the presidency or vice-presidency. Suu Kyi and her husband, the late British academic Michael Aris, had two children who are British.

Earlier this year, Shwe Mann aired his own ambitions to become Burma’s president during the World Economic Forum in Naypyidaw, after Suu Kyi reiterated her desire for the job at the same forum.

On Thursday, the Union Parliament speaker said that, given his experience in Parliament, he would not require additional preparation for the presidency.

“I would have no problem being president,” he said, before adding, “I want to be president because it’s the position that would allow me to work best for the interests of my citizens.”

The Union Parliament speaker added that he did not know how long it would take to reduce the number of seats in Parliament held by the army, but that it would be possible to do so in the future.

The 2008 Constitution reserves 25 percent of seats in the legislature for military representatives.