Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Keep State Counselor Position, NLD Says

By San Yamin Aung 25 January 2021

YANGON—The vice chair of Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) on Sunday confirmed that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will remain the country’s de facto leader in the State Counselor position for the incoming government’s five-year term.

Following the NLD’s second straight general election victory in November, speculation arose as to whether Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is constitutionally barred from the presidency, would continue to hold the State Counselor position.

The position was created in April 2016 to allow NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to take the helm of the cabinet, as she cannot assume the presidency under the terms of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The position essentially made her the de facto leader of the country. The term of office of the State Counselor is equal to the term of the President, with both of their current terms ending in March.

“Did anything bad happen to the country due to the creation of the position of State Counselor? The answer is clear. We did what was needed,” NLD vice chair and Mandalay Region Chief Minister U Zaw Myint Maung told reporters when asked about the State Counselor position after the party’s Central Executive Committee meeting in Naypyitaw on Sunday.

“And as it is needed, we will extend [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s tenure as State Counselor for another term],” he continued.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi concurrently serves as President’s Office minister and foreign affairs minister. Whether she will also continue to serve in those two positions remains unknown, however.

While the party remained tight lipped on the candidates for the presidency and other cabinet positions in the Union and state and regional governments, vice chair U Zaw Myint Maung said some chief ministers who had poor performance records over the past five years would be replaced.

The vice chair said that currently, the party is focusing on convening the new national Parliament successfully on Feb. 1, and the state and regional legislatures on Feb. 9, as its first priorities after the election.

According to the 2008 Constitution, Parliament shall convene a new term within 90 days of the commencement of the general election.

With the date growing near for the new Parliament to convene and the new government to take office, the military and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) are pressing ahead with attempts to discredit the NLD’s victory by claiming the election was marred by mass fraud, calling for a probe into the election result.

In response to those attempts, U Zaw Myint Maung said on Sunday that “We have nothing to say to them [the military and USDP]. It is our duty, as the winning party, to convene the newly elected Parliament in time as per the laws.”

The new elected representatives have arrived in Naypyitaw and been tested for COVID-19.

While continuing to maintain that the election was fraudulent, the military on Sunday announced that all of its appointees to the new Parliament had tested negative for COVID-19. Its proxy party’s representatives are also arriving in Naypyitaw.

Their attempts to discredit the NLD’s victory continue, with the military inviting both local and foreign media to attend another post-election press conference on Tuesday.

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