More than half of the cabinet members in Myanmar’s new government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) will be non-party intellectuals, NLD senior member and spokesman Win Htein said Friday.
He made the remark following a meeting the NLD’s central executive committee at the Naypyidaw home of party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the appointments of chief ministers in the country’s 14 states and divisions, upcoming transfer of power from current President Thein Sein to an NLD leader, and formation of a new government.
Win Htein also said the NLD-led administration will reduce the number of ministries from 36 to 21 or 22, and that some civil servants may be required to undergo additional job training.
As for the appointment of chief ministers in the country’s 14 states and regions, he pointed out that the constitution specifies the posts should be filled by members from the party that wins the elections.
The NLD, which swept general elections last November by beating the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), already has internally nominated members of parliament for state and regional government leadership roles, he said. None, however, has been identified by name.
Although the NLD won the majority of seats in most parts of the country in the elections, it failed to do so in western Rakhine state and northern Shan state, which have strong ethnic parties.
The Arakan National Party (ANP) won the majority of seats in the Rakhine state parliament, while the USDP took most of the seats in Shan state, followed by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).
Aung San Suu Kyi, however, has appointed NLD lawmaker Nyi Pu as chief minister of western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Win Htein said.
The NLD, which doesn’t have many members in war-torn Shan state, will consider appointing the chief minister from parties that are strong there, he said.
Rakhine party splits
The move, however, has caused consternation among members of two ethnic political parties in restive Rakhine state.
The ANP has said it will stand as an opposition party to the NLD-led government if it its members are not allowed to lead the provincial government, and that it will end its political alliance with United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a coalition of eight ethnic political parties that want a federal political system giving more autonomy to ethnic states.
The ANP, which represents the ethnic Rakhine people in Rakhine state and Yangon region, was established in January 2014 after the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) and Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) agreed to merge.
“Our party made this decision to terminate our political alliance with United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) and already announced what we decided,” said ANP general secretary Tun Aung Kyaw. “That’s why we have no reason to correct our decision.”
The ALD, which disagrees with the ANP's stance, said on Friday that it would hold a press conference to inform the public about the rift.
Vote for president
Meanwhile, the upper and lower houses of the National Assembly and the body’s military deputies are preparing to submit their nominations for president on March 10.
A vote by the combined houses will determine the next leader of the country, and the two runners-up will become vice presidents.
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British nationals, as was her late husband, cannot become president because the constitution bars anyone with foreign relatives from holding the office. She has, nevertheless, said she will be above the president.
The ceremony during which power will be transferred to the new president will be held at parliament, but Thein Sein will not attend, Win Htein said.
“We want to hold presidential power-transfer ceremony simply according to the constitution, and we don’t want to spend too much money on it,” he said.
He also said the NLD would host a dinner that evening with artists, actors and government ministers and vice ministers.
Reported by Win Ko Ko Latt and Wai Mar Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.