Aung San Suu Kyi Preps NLD Lawmakers For Handover of Power in Myanmar

myanmar-assk-win-myint-parliament-mar28-2016.jpg Aung San Suu Kyi (R), chairwoman of the National League for Democracy, speaks to lower house speaker Win Myint (L) after a parliamentary session in Naypyidaw, March 28, 2016.

Aung San Suu Kyi reminded lawmakers from her party on Monday to carry out their responsibilities dutifully to meet the expectations of Myanmar’s people when the new administration under the National League for Democracy (NLD) formally takes over the government, a party spokesman said.

The NLD chairwoman made the comments during a meeting with lawmakers from her party, including lower house speaker Win Myint and upper house speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than, as they prepare to lead the first civilian-dominated government in more than 50 years when her proxy, president-elect Htin Kyaw, formally assumes power on Friday, said NLD spokesman Win Htein.

Win Htein along with Zaw Myint Maung, chief minister of Mandalay region, Han Thar Myint, an NLD lawmaker who is a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee' Nyan Win, Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal attorney, and Myo Aung, another Central Executive Committee member, will lead the party in the future, said Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred from becoming president under a provision in the military-drafted constitution that prevents anyone with foreign relatives from holding the nation’s top office.

“Aung San Suu Kyi said the NLD has been struggling for 30 years and is not in good condition financially yet, although there are some possibilities to become [wealthier],” NLD spokesman Win Htein told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “She told the MPs to resist this situation. If they don't, then they cannot fulfill their promise to the people or work in the people’s interest.”

Her words came a day after commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing underscored the need for the country’s military to continue its involvement in national politics during the annually celebrated Armed Forces Day which commemorates Myanmar’s armed resistance to the Japanese during World War II.

In a speech, he defended the country’s constitution, written in 2008 under a military junta, which gives the commander in-chief power to appoint the heads of three key security-related ministries, and army officers a quarter of the seats in parliament along with veto power over proposed constitutional changes.

New Constitutional Tribunal

In a related development, Myanmar’s parliament on Monday rejected a military lawmaker’s objection to the appointment of two of the nominees to the Constitutional Tribunal, and approved all nine members to the body of legal experts.

Military MP Lieutenant Colonel Htun Lin Oo sought to have Khin Htay Kywe, a former political prisoner who is a Mon state parliamentarian, and legal expert Twar Kyin Paung, disqualified.

The panel’s members are elected proportionally by the president and both houses of parliament.

But upper house speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than decided not to pursue the army officer’s objection.

“I am announcing here that we will have nothing to do with the objection by military MP Lt.-Col. Htun Lin Oo to members of the Constitutional Tribunal, Khin Htay Kywe and Twar Kyin Paung because parliament has decided not to pursue it,” he said.

Lower house speaker Win Myint said the move was unconstitutional without evidence that the candidates were unqualified for the body, and lawmakers from both houses voted not to discuss the proposal.

Mahn Win Khaing Than announced parliament’s approval of the remaining nine nominees for the tribunal, including Myo Nyunt, a judge in the Bago regional high court, as chairman.

In the meantime, national lawmakers approved six of the country’s 14 chief ministers of state and division governments, including Phyi Min Thein in Yangon, Win Thein in Bago, Mann Johnny in Ayeyarwady, Lei Lei Maw in Tanintharyi, Khin Htwe Myint in Karen state and Lin Htut in Shan state. The National Assembly will consider the others on Tuesday.

The names of 13 of the 14 chief ministers—all from the NLD—were officially announced at respective state and division parliaments on Monday morning, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.

Ethnic Rakhine people attend a campaign rally for the Arakan National Party in Yangon, Oct. 25, 2015.
Ethnic Rakhine people attend a campaign rally for the Arakan National Party in Yangon, Oct. 25, 2015.
ANP members walk out

Four members of the Arakan National Party (ANP), which represents the interests of the predominantly Buddhist, ethnic Rakhine majority living in the state and in Yangon region, walked out of the Rakhine state parliament in western Myanmar on Monday, when the body’s speaker announced that NLD lawmaker Nyi Pu had been appointed as the state’s chief minister.

“The ANP won in most places in Rakhine state,” said ANP lawmaker Aung Win of ANP. “The ANP should have the right to form a state government if we are operating according to a democratic system."

"The appointment of an NLD MP as head of the Rakhine state government goes against the wishes of the people and democracy,” he said. “It shows that the NLD can’t fulfill people’s wishes, and we are saddened by it. That’s why we walked out of parliament today.”

ANP legislators wore black stickers on their jackets during Monday’s parliamentary session to demonstrate their objection to Nyi Pu’s appointment.

“We are wearing black stickers today to show our sadness because we didn’t get what we wanted although we asked for it,” said ANP lawmaker Than Naing.

People from the state capital Sittwe, Mrauk-U, Maungtaw and Buthidaung, also protested the move by demanding the right to form their own state government with an ANP chief minister.

For months, members of the ANP, the state’s strongest local ethnic political party, and their supporters have demanded that they be allowed to choose their chief minister from within their own political ranks.

The ANP threatened in January to oppose the NLD if it did not get its way, and about 500 people marched in protest though Sittwe last week.

The party won 22 seats in the country’s National Assembly in general elections last November that swept the NLD to victory over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. It also won 23 of 47 state parliament seats, but failed to gain a majority in the Rakhine state legislature because a quarter of seats automatically went to military representatives.

Nevertheless, president-elect Htin Kyaw, who has the authority to nominate chief ministers and their cabinet members, put forward Nyi Pu, an NLD lawmaker who represents Rakhine’s Gwa township, as the state’s chief minister.

San Hle Kyaw, chairman of the Rakhine state parliament, said lawmakers could submit proposals to object to his appointment only if they could prove that Nyi Pu failed to meet certain qualifications as chief minister, according to the country’s constitution.

“I believe that we all have a common willingness to work towards developing the state, but we might not agree on the same [methods],” said Nyi Pu. “If we at least have the common willingness with regard to the state, we might not have many problems. If even we have a problem, it can be resolved through discussion and negotiation.”

Reported by Win Naung Toe, Win Ko Ko Latt, and Min Thein Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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