Questions Raised Over Power Transfer Invites

By Moe Myint 29 March 2016

RANGOON — Three-hundred representatives from various organizations will be invited to participate in the transfer of power ceremony at outgoing President Thein Sein’s residence in Naypyidaw on March 30, senior National League for Democracy (NLD) official Win Htein said on Monday.

Ambassadors, high-ranking military generals, government officials and senior members of the NLD are among those invited to the Presidential Palace for the occasion, according to the central executive committee member.

“We will invite the appropriate people [from the military],” he added, after party leader Aung San Suu Kyi excluded three militarily appointed ministers from a meeting of the incoming cabinet that she convened last week.

Recently, journalists have criticized the invitation process regarding media selection, amid rumors that a bipartisan committee formed to oversee the transition had planned to only invite government mouthpieces and a few private newspapers to the event.

Outgoing Information Minister Ye Htut explained to the public on his Facebook account that the NLD had picked which media outlets to invite, and that the matter should be taken up with the incoming ruling party. His account did not confirm the number of media invitees, but said the committee would choose about 20 weekly journals, seven dailies, both state-owned and private broadcasters, and some international media, such as Voice of America and the BBC.

On Monday evening, Win Htein could not confirm the number of news organizations invited to the historic event and said the question should be addressed to newly appointed Information Minister Pe Myint.

President-elect Htin Kyaw will be center stage at the power handover on March 30, but Suu Kyi will also presumably be in attendance. She named herself to head four ministries of the incoming government and has effectively said she will govern via Htin Kyaw as part of a proxy president arrangement she deemed necessary given that she is constitutionally barred from Burma’s highest elected office under a military-drafted charter prohibiting those with foreign children from assuming the role.

Suu Kyi has two British-born sons.