Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will meet President Thein Sein and the country’s military commander-in-chief separately on Wednesday to discuss “national reconciliation” as her party prepares to assume power in January following its landslide victory in national elections.
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party won almost 80 percent of parliamentary seats in the Nov. 8 general elections, will meet Thein Sein in the morning at his official residence in the capital Naypyidaw, according to statement released by his office.
“The meeting between the winning party leader and ruling government leader is a positive sign for the [political power] transition,” Khine Maung Yi, a lawmaker from the National Democratic Force party, told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “This time Aung San Suu Kyi’s request is not the same as before, because it is a political mandate.”
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing also plans to meet Aung San Suu Kyi for a one-on-one meeting in the afternoon, according to a statement released by his office.
The statements gave no further details about the meetings, which will be closed to the media, although it is generally believed that Aung San Suu Kyi will discuss the transition of power from the military-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government to the NLD.
“The Dec. 2 meeting will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders,” said political analyst Yan Myo Thein of Aung San Suu Kyi’s tête-à-tête with Min Aung Hlaing. “They may not be on the same boat when discussing amending the constitution, especially articles 59 (f) and 436, but may come to some kind of agreement on ethnic issues and peace.”
Aung San Suu Kyi led efforts earlier this year to change the two articles, the first of which prevents her from becoming president because her two sons are foreign nationals. The second article gives military lawmakers de facto veto power over constitutional changes.
Legislators rejected the amendments in June, prompting criticism from NLD lawmakers who expressed doubt about the government’s commitment to democratic change.
‘How to find consensus?’
Nevertheless, Aung San Suu Kyi has said that she will occupy a position “above the president” after parliament elects a new national leader to assume power in March.
When the party forms a government in January, the military will continue to hold 25 percent of the seats in parliament through appointment, and Min Aung Hlaing will continue to appoint the leaders of three key ministries — defense, home affairs and border affairs.
“The challenge might be how to find consensus between Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi in appointing three military-nominated cabinet posts, because the nomination power is only in the commander-in-chief’s hands,” said constitutional legal expert Ko Ni. “But on the other hand, I am also hopeful they can successfully negotiate it during this meeting.”
Although both Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have vowed to respect the election results and were quick to congratulate the Nobel laureate on her election victory, concerns about uncertainty surrounding the handover of power still linger because the military ignored the NLD’s landslide victory in 1990 elections and kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
“We are hopeful that there can be some kind of agreements from the meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military commander-in-chief,” said Win Oo, a USDP lawmaker. “We are just hopeful but cannot predict what the agreements will be.”
Two days after the elections, Aung San Suu Kyi had requested meetings with Thein Sein, Min Aung Hlaing and speaker of the lower house Shwe Mann to discuss the political transition.
She has held a handful of meetings with Shwe Mann since Nov. 19.
In a statement on his Facebook page, he praised her for “her humility and positive approach” to the political power transition from the USDP to the NLD.
Shwe Mann also welcomed the possibility of a greater role for ethnic minority groups in the new government and urged all parties to cooperate to ensure stability, peace and development in the Southeast Asian nation.
Aung San Suu Kyi said last Thursday that the new government cabinet would include representatives from other political parties and ethnic minority groups.
Reported by Zin Mar Win, Myo Thant Khaing, Thinn Thiri and Thiri Min Zin for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.