Burma’s Suu Kyi Holds Talks With President Thein Sein

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 10 March 2014

RANGOON — Burma’s main opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with President Thein Sein at his home on Sunday, according to a National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman.

“They met at the president’s farm cottage in Naypyidaw from 5 to 5:50 yesterday evening,” said Zeyar Thaw, an information officer for the NLD’s office in the capital and member of Parliament for the party led by Suu Kyi.

Zeyar Thaw refused to give details of what was discussed during the nearly one-hour meeting because, he said, “the party has no plan to release information about the meeting.”

However, Monywa Aung Shin, the information officer in charge of the NLD’s central committee, told The Irrawaddy that the meeting was initiated by the president.

“As far as I know, there were not any other people attended the meeting, only Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Thien Sein were there,” he said.

The meeting on Sunday was the first between Thein Sein and Suu Kyi this year. The two have met altogether four times since their historic first meeting in 2011. The last time they met was in August.

During Sunday’s meeting, the two leaders may have discussed a four-party meeting that Suu Kyi had proposed to the president in November. The opposition leader has called for talks to be held involving herself, Thein Sein, the powerful Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann and the Burmese military’s Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing to discuss amendments to Burma’s Constitution.

The president turned down her request at the time, saying he would consider the meeting after Parliament’s Constitutional Review Joint Committee released the proposal to change the 2008 charter.

The Committee submitted the proposals to the Union Parliament in late January this year and a new committee was formed to decide upon amendments. Suu Kyi has continued to rally support for amending the military-drafted charter that guarantees the armed forces’ role in politics and bars the NLD chairperson from the presidency.

Sunday’s meeting between Suu Kyi and Thein Sein took place just two days after Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann said he is ready to hold the four-party meeting.

Political commentator Yan Myo Thien said the four-party talks were likely the subject of the discussion on Sunday.

“Given to the current political landscape, it’s possible that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would focus on the four-party meeting as well as the constitutional amendments,” he said.

“I think the most important thing is to have the four-party meeting. If they get a general agreement out of it, they could expand it into an all-inclusive political dialogue. When it happens, constitutional amendments can be taken for granted,” he added.

Despite meeting with both Thein Sein and Shwe Mann several times, Suu Kyi has still not yet met with Min Aung Hlaing.

Earlier this year, she told reporters in Naypyidaw that she had tried to meet Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, but her attempts had proven unsuccessful.

“My relations with him have not progressed at all because I have not even been able to meet him yet,” the National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson said. “But I have never given up on something after failing only one time.”

Yan Myo Thein said he thinks the meeting with Suu Kyi and the commander-in-chief is “strategically important.”

“Political change in this country is impossible without any meeting with the military,” he said.