New National Defense and Security Council Formed

By San Yamin Aung 30 March 2016

RANGOON — Following a long-awaited power transfer on Wednesday, Burma’s new civilian-led National League for Democracy government formed a reconfigured 11-member National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) as one of its first acts in office.

The President’s Office released an announcement of the new membership, signed by President Htin Kyaw, soon after he was sworn into office, with the Burma Army commander-in-chief, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy Lt-Gen Soe Win, and Defense Minister Lt-Gen Sein Win retaining their seats from the preceding administration.

The powerful executive body also includes Htin Kyaw; two vice presidents, retired Lt-Gen Myint Swe and ethnic Chin former lawmaker Henry Van Thio; speakers of the Upper and Lower houses, Mahn Win Khaing Than and Win Myint; Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi; Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe; and Border Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Ye Aung.

The NDSC is empowered by the Constitution to formulate policy regarding certain military and security issues, including the right to petition the president to declare a nationwide state of emergency. The military commands a 6-5 majority in the council.

Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the National League for Democracy (NLD), assumed the role of Foreign Minister, and therefore a position on the NDSC, following her party’s landslide victory in the 2015 general election. She took the role because she is constitutionally barred from becoming president under the 2008 military-drafted Constitution.

The Union Parliament officially announced that the NLD leader will take four ministerial positions, heading up the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, and Electric Power and Energy, as well the lone President’s Office ministerial post.