Aung San Suu Kyi Meets With Myanmar’s Parliamentary Speakers

2015-12-10
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Aung San Suu Kyi (C), chairwoman of the National League for Democracy, leaves Myanmar's parliament after a meeting with parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann in Naypyidaw, Nov. 19, 2015.
Aung San Suu Kyi (C), chairwoman of the National League for Democracy, leaves Myanmar's parliament after a meeting with parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann in Naypyidaw, Nov. 19, 2015.
AFP

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with parliamentary speakers Shwe Mann and Khin Aung Myint Thursday in preparation for a new legislature made up predominantly of lawmakers from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, following its sweep of general elections last month.

Also present at the meeting in the capital Naypyidaw were parliament’s two vice-house speakers, NLD lawmaker Win Myint, the chairmen of Myanmar’s regional and state parliaments, Deputy Minister of Communication Thaung Tin, Deputy Minister of Construction Soe Tint and the chief-directors of the office of parliament.

Following the meeting, lower house speaker Shwe Mann told reporters that he had discussed the transition of power with Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of the incoming NLD-majority parliament which will sit after the current legislative session ends in late January.

“Today’s discussion focused on the incoming parliament as well as implementing the conclusions reached by the two of us during our Nov. 19 meeting,” he said.

During the Nov. 19 meeting—the third between the two following the NLD’s landslide victory at the Nov. 8 polls—Shwe Mann and Aung San Suu Kyi had agreed to implement the election result according to the will of the people and to work towards reconciliation in the new parliament.

They also agreed to collaborate on both parliamentary and non-parliamentary issues, and to ensure that the new legislature operates according to law.

While most of Myanmar’s current lawmakers lost their seats in the election, the ongoing parliamentary session has full power to pass legislation.

A number of laws overseeing business, the economy, the banking sector and the federal budget are scheduled for debate. Also up for discussion is the controversial “Right of Recall” bill, which would allow for the removal of lawmakers facing recall petitions from at least one percent of their constituents.

Shwe Mann was ousted from his position atop the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in August—a move experts have suggested was due in part to his close relationship with Aung San Suu Kyi, who has aggressively pushed for reforms in Myanmar.

The parliamentary speaker also lost his legislative seat representing Phyu township in Bago region to an NLD candidate in the elections.

Reconciliation talks

Aung San Suu Kyi had called for “national reconciliation” talks shortly after the NLD was assured of electoral victory, and observers are anxious to see how the transition will play out in Myanmar, where the military retains substantial sway over the country’s political affairs.

While the party won a majority in parliament and will be able to select the country’s new president, the military will continue to hold 25 percent of the legislature’s seats through appointment, giving it veto power over all constitutional amendments.

The NLD has campaigned to reform the junta-era constitution, including a clause that prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president because her sons are foreign nationals. In June, the military bloc of parliament voted in unison to keep its veto power and has resisted efforts to amend the charter.

In addition to the military’s influence on the legislature, it will also appoint the leaders of three key ministries—defense, home affairs and border affairs—when the NLD government takes power, which is expected to occur in February or March after the incoming parliament meets and votes on a new president.

Thursday’s meeting was the ninth between Shwe Mann and Aung San Suu Kyi since the election. The two also met on Monday.

Aung San Suu Kyi also held separate meetings with retired Senior General Than Shwe and Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Dec. 2.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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