Aung San Suu Kyi set for new role in Myanmar, akin to being Prime Minister

NAYPYIDAW: A Bill to appoint Aung San Suu Kyi in a powerful, newly-formed role in Myanmar’s government is expected to be tabled to parliament on Friday (Apr 1) in a bid to give the National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader more influence over the running of the country.

The role of State Counsellor would be held in addition to her four ministerial portfolios, including the foreign ministry, which were confirmed on Wednesday via a parliamentary swearing-in process.

An NLD spokesman said the role – which appears to be similar to that of a Prime Minister – would give Aung San Suu Kyi control over the government and greater official responsibility over the parliament, democratic process and negotiations of national peace.

A draft of the proposal, which mentions Aung San Suu Kyi by name, would give her “responsibility to the parliament regarding the performance of advice”, power to conduct any meetings deemed necessary and a budget.

Under Myanmar’s constitution, Aung San Suu Kyi is prohibited from being President; her trusted friend and aide Htin Kyaw took the office this week. However, she has consistently reiterated that she would be “above the President”.

The spokesman explained that this new role would require no change to the constitution, just the approval by parliament, which the NLD overwhelmingly controls.

The upper house of parliament is expected to sit on Friday, when the Bill could be tabled for debate.

POPULAR MANDATE

Aung Kyi Nyunt, an upper house MP from central Myanmar who submitted the bill, said the new role reflected the popular mandate Aung San Suu Kyi won at the polls.

“The object of the proposal from the bill committee in the upper house parliament is to fulfill the wishes and interests of people who voted on 8 November 2015,” he told lawmakers.

Aung San Suu Kyi is revered by Myanmar’s democracy movement and many believe she has earned the right to lead the country’s first civilian government since 1962.

But repeated efforts to amend the charter that disqualifies her from the presidency have been halted by a military that still retains strong political sway and a quarter of parliament’s seats, giving it an effective veto on any charter change.

The military-scripted constitution rules out anyone with close foreign relatives; Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband and two sons are British.

The country’s new lawmakers hail from a variety of backgrounds, from doctors to poets, but many have little experience of government.

The nation is witnessing the dawn of a new era following nearly half a century of military repression, with surging hopes that the newly sworn-in administration can accelerate the country’s economic and political rejuvenation.

Last November’s polls, the freest in decades, saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party rake in 80 per cent of available parliament seats, giving it a massive public mandate.

Source: AFP

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