Myanmar Presidential Nominations Moved Forward to March 10

  • Three candidates to be announced a week earlier than planned
  • Suu Kyi's party still silent on who it will select for top job

Myanmar’s parliament will reveal the three candidates vying to become the next president on March 10, a week earlier than expected, as the nation’s political transition nears its conclusion after Aung San Suu Kyi’s party sweeping election victory in November.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, which trounced the military-backed ruling party by a nearly 10-1 margin in the poll, dominates both houses of the new parliament and will be able to elect its chosen candidate. Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from the position and the party has yet to say who it will put forward or when the actual parliamentary vote will take place.

Suu Kyi has met army chief Min Aung Hlaing several times to discuss the power transfer, fueling speculation that she was seeking a deal that would allow her to become president despite the clause in the military-drafted constitution. NLD lawmakers contacted by telephone Tuesday declined to comment on why the announcement had been moved forward from March 17.

"They moved the announcement one week earlier as the NLD wants to say they are ready for the presidential nominees, cabinet nominees and nominees for other union-level bodies," said Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst in Yangon who is close to the party. He said Suu Kyi would not be among the nominees and the NLD would likely put forward a senior party member instead.

"I think the NLD views amending article 59(f), which bars Madam Suu from becoming
president as a long-term process," Yan Myo Thein said, referring to Suu Kyi. "They will need to build trust with the military commander-in-chief first to amend that clause."

Suu Kyi, 70, and her party are the longtime opponents of the generals who ruled the country from a coup in 1962 until 2011, when they handed power to their political arm. November’s vote was the first widely contested poll since 1990, when the NLD’s victory was ignored by the generals.

In addition to barring Suu Kyi from the presidency, the constitution allows the army to retain broad powers, including 25 percent of seats in parliament, effective veto power over charter changes and control of key ministries.

Under the constitution, the upper house, lower house and military appointees in the new parliament -- which sat for the first time on Feb. 1 -- will each nominate a candidate for president. The candidate who receives the most votes in a parliamentary poll becomes president with the other two serving as vice presidents.

The next president takes over on April 1, when outgoing President Thein Sein’s term ends.

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