Myanmar’s NLD Distances Itself From Senior Member’s Comment on Presidency for Military Chief

By Htet Naing Zaw 3 July 2020

NAYPYITAW—National League for Democracy (NLD) vice chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said party patron U Win Htein’s recent comment on the possibility of the Myanmar military commander-in-chief being elected to the Union presidency does not represent the stance of the party.

In an interview with the BBC on June 20, U Win Htein said Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing had a good chance of becoming the country’s President if he were to lead constitutional reforms.

“If [Snr-Gen] Min Aung Hlaing leads the charter reforms, [he] is very likely to become the President in the next election,” U Win Htein said.

Myanmar’s President is elected by Union Parliament lawmakers from among three vice presidents also chosen by them. One of the three vice presidents is nominated by the military-appointed lawmakers in Parliament.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, when asked by The Irrawaddy about U Win Htein’s remark, said after the party’s Central Executive Committee meeting in Naypyitaw on Thursday, “It is not the stance of the NLD. Not the stance of the NLD. I don’t even know it. I can assure you of that. You asked me if it is the NLD’s policy. It is not. That is obvious.”

He said the NLD had never considered such a political give and take—presenting the Myanmar military chief with the presidency in exchange for charter reforms.

The NLD pledged to reform the Constitution during campaigning ahead of the 2015 election. It took steps last year to amend the charter, but failed due to opposition from the unelected military-appointed lawmakers, who hold 25 percent of seats in the national legislature.

The party would continue its attempt to amend the Constitution during the term of the next government, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung told The Irrawaddy.

In an exclusive interview with Russia-based news agency Arguments and Facts during his visit to the country last month, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing hinted that he might enter politics.

“I have a lot of administrative experience,” the senior general said.

When asked by the Russian news agency what role he would play in the coming general election, the military chief said the top priority of the Myanmar military is to make sure the election is free and fair.

“There are parties that will contest the election. And there are different organizations. And there are people. They have different wishes. Based on their wishes and the election results, I will consider [my role],” he said.

Many political observers believe the 64-year-old senior general is eyeing the presidency following the 2020 election. He turned 60, the retirement age for civil servants in Myanmar, in July 2016, but extended his retirement age for five years as permissible under military law.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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