Senior NLD Member Confirms Nominations for House Speakers

By The Irrawaddy 28 January 2016

RANGOON — A senior member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has confirmed early reports that the party has selected speakers for the new Parliament that will convene next week.

Central committee member Win Htein told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw on Thursday that Win Myint and Mahn Win Khaing Than, both NLD members and the latter ethnic Karen, have been chosen to steer the Lower and Upper houses, respectively.

Ethnic Kachin T Khun Myat, a member of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), will serve as deputy speaker of the Lower House, while Aye Tha Aung, patron of the Arakan National Party (ANP), will hold the position in the Upper House.

The announcement, which Win Htein said was approved by party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, confirmed reports that surfaced last week after another party spokesman, Nyan Win, made a similar revelation to newswire AFP.

The NLD swiftly responded to the initial reports—without denying that the nominations had been made—with a statement designating Suu Kyi as the only person authorized to make statements about the party’s political maneuvers.

Suu Kyi has previously vowed to appoint ethnic minorities and members of other political parties to important roles to promote national reconciliation, though the party’s choice of T Khun Myat as deputy speaker has raised eyebrows.

The sitting USDP lawmaker is said to be a close ally of current Speaker Shwe Mann, and has been accused in a series of investigative reports in Shan media of involvement in the narcotics trade and ties to a government-allied militia in his Kutkai constituency.

The NLD secured a landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general election and is set to assume a majority of both houses of Parliament on Feb. 1.