Presidential Nominees To Be Announced On March 10

By Tin Htet Paing 1 March 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s Union Parliament announced on Tuesday that presidential nominees will be declared on March 10—a week earlier than the date originally set for the occasion.

Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than of the Union Parliament read the announcement, but no reason for the revised date was given at the legislative session.

After nominees are announced, an electoral college will select Burma’s next President from among them; the deadline for the transition of power to Burma’s new government is the end of March.

“The date to hold meetings for the three presidential nominees has been put forward to March 10, a week earlier than the previously decided date,” the Speaker told the MPs.

NLD senior members were engaged in a meeting and not available for comment when The Irrawaddy reached out for interviews on Tuesday.

Political commentator Yan Myo Thein told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he assumed the revision of the date stemmed from an internal decision within the party, and was optimistic about the extra week it would allow the NLD during the process of transitioning power.

“The revision of the date is an appropriate and better approach [for the NLD] to form a new government and union level organizations,” he said.

The revised date was announced following a meeting between chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and military commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing on February 17. The talks were reportedly held to discuss matters related to the rule of law and sustainable peace.

Yet Yan Myo Thein speculated that the possibility of a “direct connection” was slim between Suu Kyi’s meeting with the military chief and the decision to advance the nomination date. He instead attributed the change to a “tight schedule”—the original date of March 17 to announce the nominees was too close to the deadline of the power transfer, he said.

The state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar quoted Arakan National Party (ANP) lawmaker Khin Saw Wai in Tuesday’s edition, who said that it was possible to hold nominations earlier because both the people and the military were ready for the announcement.

Both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament will nominate candidates for vice president, while military representatives, who were appointed by the commander-in-chief to fill 25 percent of the legislative seats, will nominate another candidate.

Despite the NLD’s landslide victory in November’s general election, where the party acquired nearly 80 percent of the seats in each house, Suu Kyi remains barred from the presidency. This is articulated in Article 59 (f) of Burma’s controversial 2008 Constitution, which prohibits anyone with a foreign spouse or foreign children from holding the position; the NLD chairwoman’s late husband was British, and her two sons also hold British citizenship.

Suu Kyi has held three meetings with military leaders since the election, reportedly to discuss changes to Article 59 (f), but the military has expressed an unwillingness to consider an amendment to or a suspension of the law.

Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly stated that that she will find other ways to head the government, by, as she said, being “above the President.”