NLD Poised to Impose Chief Ministers on States and Regions

By Htun Htun 22 January 2021

Yangon — Despite the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s ongoing talks with ethnic parties on forming a national unity government, the party said it would select regional and state chief ministers without consultation.

“As the NLD has secured an electoral landslide to form the government, it is very likely that the chief ministers will be from the party. We did the same [after the 2015 victory]. We followed the 2008 Constitution and it is not that we forcibly took the decision,” NLD vice-chair Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said.

Under Article 261 of the 2008 Constitution, chief ministers are appointed by the president, allowing the party that won the election at the national level to pick its appointees, regardless of election results in regions and states.

The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party last year submitted a proposed amendment to Article 261 to allow chief ministers to be selected by state and regional parliaments rather than by appointment by the president. The proposal was rejected.

NLD central executive committee member Dr. Myo Nyunt recently said the party leadership has candidates in mind for the union ministers, parliamentary speakers and their deputies.

When asked if ministers will be picked from ethnic political parties, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung gave a vague answer.

“They were appointed in previous governments but can’t say about the incoming government. They are likely to be appointed because ethnic affairs ministerial positions must be handed to politicians from ethnic minorities,” he said.

In the current NLD Union government, Naing Thet Lwin, the ethnic affairs minister, is the only minister from an ethnic political party, the Mon National Party.

Since its second consecutive landslide victory in November, the NLD has sent a delegation to states to hold talks on forming a national unity government with ethnic political parties as a step towards establishing a federal union.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said the talks were a success. However, after the delegation’s first meeting with ethnic parties in Kachin State, planned meetings with the Mon Unity Party and later with the Kayah State Democratic Party were aborted, as the NLD insisted the talks were held at its offices in Mon and Kayah states, venues rejected as unacceptable by the other parties.

Last week, the NLD delegation held talks with ethnic parties in Shan State.

“The trip was good. What we offered was successful. [Parties in] Shan and Kachin states welcomed us. There was a misunderstanding in Kayah [and Mon states]. But we can hold talks again and it will be successful when we reach an understanding,” said Dr. Zaw Myint Maung.

He said the party will continue to settle political problems through dialogue and believes it will be able to find an answer with ethnic parties.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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