NLD Rejects ‘False’ Report on Suu Kyi Ditching 2015 Presidential Push

By Kyaw Phyo Tha & San Yamin Aung 9 January 2015

RANGOON — A spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD) has vehemently denied that party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi has dropped her presidential ambitions, after a local media outlet reported that the opposition leader would instead focus her efforts on securing the parliamentary speakership.

“The news is absolutely false,” Nyan Win, the NLD spokesman, told The Irrawaddy on Friday. “The [NLD] member who was quoted also denied having said that.”

A local Burmese journal, the Trade Times, reported on Thursday that Suu Kyi would not seek the presidency following national elections late this year. The weekly quoted a member of the NLD’s central information team, Monywa Aung Shin, as saying the reason for Suu Kyi’s shift in strategy was because there was not enough time to make a required constitutional change that would make her eligible for the presidency.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday in the aftermath of the Trade Times article’s publication, Monywa Aung Shin also denied the report.

“I never said she would not run for the presidency and would run for speakership of the Parliament,” he said.

Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann said at the press conference in November that any changes to the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, which bars Suu Kyi from contesting the presidency under Article 59(f), could only be enacted after this year’s general election.

The Trade Times article quoted Monywa Aung Shin as saying: “The Constitution can’t be amended in time, but Aung San Suu Kyi would be happy with being the head of the Parliament.”

The story was subsequently picked up by at least one foreign media outlet, with that report citing the Trade Times.

The NLD central information team member said he had merely told the Trade Times that the likelihood of a Suu Kyi presidency would diminish if the Constitution is not amended before the elections.

“They are saying they will do the constitutional amendments only after the 2015 elections. But I said we will keep trying for the presidency and also we will work to win in the 2015 elections absolutely,” he said.

Monywa Aung Shin acknowledged that if the Constitution was not amended before the 2015 elections, the NLD would have to wait until 2020 for a potential Suu Kyi presidency.

“We, the NLD, will continue doing everything that a political party should do, and we will try by all means, until the end, for amendments to the Constitution,” party spokesperson Nyan Win said.