An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
Wai Moe and Thomas Fuller: New York Times - 5 February 2016
The democracy movement of the Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is negotiating with Myanmar’s military over the composition of the next government, including a possible deal that would allow her to be president, two senior members of her party said on Friday.
The officials said the party had offered senior government posts to the military as part of a deal in which the military would allow Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to be president.
The precise details of the negotiations remain murky, and the party members spoke on the condition of anonymity because, in the words of one, “now is a very sensitive time.” Read on.....
Shwe Mann, Burma’s former Parliament Speaker who is viewed as an ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, has been appointed to lead a legislative oversight commission. As chairman of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, Shwe Mann will be tasked with supporting parliamentary committees as they amend existing laws and draft new bills.
The commission’s 23 members were announced by his successor, Lower House Speaker Win Myint, on Friday. Ko Ko Naing, a member of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), will serve as vice chairman. Shwe Mann, a former general, was removed from his post as USDP chairman in August, but he remained a member of the party. The surprise ouster was widely interpreted as a a response to his closeness with Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The Legal Affairs Commission was formed in 2012 to support lawmakers and liaise between committees. Its new permutation comprises members of several political parties, ex-military officials, retired civil servants, diplomats and legal experts. Commission members do not have to be elected members of Parliament, but are granted legal protection to speak freely with lawmakers about pending legislation and make recommendations directly to Parliament.
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Burma’s newly elected Parliament has officially appointed the speaker and deputy speaker of the Upper House, securing three-quarters of the powerful posts for ethnic minority lawmakers.
Ethnic Karen Mahn Win Khaing Than, of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), and Aye Tha Aung of the Arakan National Party (ANP), were sworn in during the first convening of the Upper House on Wednesday.
Win Myint, an ethnic Bamar NLD member, and T Khun Myat, a Kachin lawmaker representing the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), assumed Lower House speaker and deputy positions on Monday.
Lawmakers and observers said they were pleased the decision of the NLD, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, to bring diversity to the legislature for the first time in the country’s history; the military-backed USDP, which has just relinquished its majority, all four speaker positions were held by ethnic Bamar ruling party members.
Burma’s The Voice Weekly magazine reported that Ms Suu Kyi was negotiating with the armed forces chief to abolish a constitutional rule barring her from the presidency. Her National League for Democracy won 80 per cent of the seats in the general election in November but Burma’s constitution, drawn up under the former junta, excludes from the highest office anyone with foreign children....
The speculation is that the army chief may be persuaded to order his delegates to suspend the constitutional clause in question in return for guarantees of favour from Ms Suu Kyi.
In this consummate analysis of the problems facing the National League for Democracy as it assumes legislative power in Myanmar, Nicholas Farrelly concludes:
"For its future viability, the party will benefit from a historic injection of youthful vigour among its decision-making group. Party stalwarts have resisted this revitalisation, while deference to elders makes it hard for the young guns to have their voices heard.
"Among the newly elected rank-and-file – who have already been told that they are expected to make up the numbers – the party’s strict discipline will be hard to maintain. Under these conditions, new problems will emerge.
"What this analysis implies is that in its elitist culture, the NLD keeps to familiar patterns of hierarchy and subservience. With time, this might change. For now, it would be good to see strong signals that the party’s mandate will mean more democracy in Nay Pyi Taw."
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