Ex-President Thein Sein a No-Show at NLD State Dinner

By The Irrawaddy 30 March 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s ex-President Thein Sein and all of his former cabinet members were reportedly absent from a state dinner hosted by the newly sworn-in National League for Democracy government on Wednesday evening, while the Burma Army commander-in-chief and his wife did attend.

The dinner, to celebrate the handover earlier in the day of presidential responsibilities to the NLD government steered by party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, was held at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw.

The hosts, victorious in a November election that swept the party to power, invited senior figures from the defeated Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government, including Thein Sein, as well as military officials including Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief.

The ceremonial handover of presidential responsibilities was held at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday morning, when the outgoing Thein Sein handed over responsibilities to the newly sworn-in President Htin Kyaw, Suu Kyi’s pick to nominally head the executive.

The Thein Sein administration came to power in 2011 and his five-year term officially concluded on Wednesday.

Htin Kyaw was selected for the presidency earlier this month, after an unsuccessful campaign by Suu Kyi to amend Burma’s controversial Constitution, which bars her from the office because her children are foreigners. Though the retired general Thein Sein reached out to Suu Kyi early in his term, inviting her to his home in 2011, relations between the two appeared to sour in recent years as the NLD leader pushed vocally for changes to the Constitution.