Thein Sein Will Not Seek Second Term as Myanmar’s President

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myanmar-thein-sein-japan-mekong-summit-july3-2015.jpg Myanmar President Thein Sein delivers a speech at an economic forum during the Japan-Mekong Summit in Tokyo, July 3, 2015.

Mynamar President Thein Sein will not pursue a second term as president by running in the general elections scheduled for early November, an official from the ruling Union party said Wednesday, two days before the cutoff for candidate submissions.

“The president will not run in the 2015 elections,” Thein Swe, secretary of ruling Union party, formally called the Union Solidarity and Development Party, said in the capital Naypyidaw at a gathering of military officers who have retired from active service to run as candidates on the party ticket.

“It is his own decision, not because of his health. We haven’t decided who we will choose [for president] in the USDP if we win,” he said, adding that the selection would be made after the election results have been tallied.

About a month ago, RFA reported that Thein Sein, 70, had not ruled out a second term in office, according to Major Zaw Htay, director of the president’s office, despite previous reports that he would not run again because of health issues.

However, Thein Sein still could be nominated for the office for a second term because Myanmar’s president and two vice presidents need not be elected members of parliament, according to the 2008 constitution drafted under the military-junta regime that previously ruled the country.

Twenty-six top military generals, including defense services commander-in-chief Hla Htay Win and Navy Vice Admiral Thura Thet Swe, have resigned from active duty to join other Union candidates who are running in 1,147 of the country’s 1,179 constituencies in the Nov. 8 elections, Thein Swe said.

“I am going to contest the election because I want to do national politics,” Hla Htay Win said. “I have prepared my best to contest the election and hope to get the best result.”

Military candidates will contest seats mainly in their hometowns, Thein Swe said.

“Local residents in certain places where these military officials served have requested that they run,” he said.

Of the Union party members who are running, 320 will contest seats in the lower house, 166 in the upper house, 632 in state or division parliaments, and 29 as national race representatives, a designation in the 2008 constitution that lets ethnic groups with sizable populations have their own representatives in state or division parliaments, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported.

Where Myanmar is heading

The elections will largely been seen as an indication of where Myanmar is headed in its transformation from an authoritarian nation to a democratic one.

Political observers believe that the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party will win the elections, taking the majority of parliamentary seats away from the Union party, largely comprised of former military officers.

However, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from seeking the nation’s highest office under a provision in the constitution that excludes her because her two sons hold foreign citizenship.

In June, lawmakers voted down changes to the charter that would have allowed her to become president.

Nevertheless, the Union party is predicting an overall victory.

“We haven’t had any plan yet to form alliances with any other party because we believe we will have enough seats to form a government,” Thein Swe said. “We are doing our best with the intention to achieve this goal.”

Besides the 26 former military officers, 16 incumbent government ministers, 22 deputy ministers, 36 central executive committee members, and 72 women will run on the Union party ticket, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma.

The Union party will not contest 32 seats — two in the upper house, 10 in the lower house and 20 in division and state parliaments — in certain constituencies of special autonomous regions where it has reached agreements with local parties not to run against them, said union party general secretary Maung Maung Thein.

“These seats are in mostly ethnic areas and places where we have negotiated [with other parties],” he said.

About 90 political parties have registered to participate in the elections.

Reported by Win Ko Ko Lat for Myanmar’s Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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