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Myanmar Transition Meeting Pushed to End of Year

  • Thar Nyunt Oo

FILE - Myanmar Information Minister Ye Htut talks to journalists during a press briefing at the parliament building, Aug 18, 2015, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

FILE - Myanmar Information Minister Ye Htut talks to journalists during a press briefing at the parliament building, Aug 18, 2015, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

Myanmar says it will take more than a month before opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi can meet with senior officials to discuss the transition to the next government.

In an exclusive interview with VOA's Burmese Service Wednesday, Information Minister Ye Htut downplayed any concerns about the timeline.

“We don’t see any problem at the moment. What President [Thein Sein] has said all the time was to maintain and support stability in the transition period. In the meantime, [opposition leader] Aung San Suu Kyi herself has urged supporters of her party to remain calm. I don’t think there’s much to worry about because most people also believe stability is important at this time," he said.

Ye Htut added that the opposition leader's recently proposed meeting with the president, army chief and parliament speaker is likely to take place by the end of this year, but only after the Union Election Commission (UEC) finishes its work.

“In general, the commission takes 45 days [to complete its work]. So, taking into account the commission’s tasks, it could happen after 45 days," he said.

The vote, which appears to have been a rout for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), was held on November 8, with final results expected to be announced about two weeks after the poll.

FILE - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) arrives to attend a regular session of the lower house of the country's parliament, Nov. 16, 2015, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

FILE - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) arrives to attend a regular session of the lower house of the country's parliament, Nov. 16, 2015, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

Possible election complaints

Burmese language media reports, however, are quoting a senior ruling party official as saying up to 100 complaints could be filed against NLD candidates for alleged election violations. The complaints, which would be investigated by the UEC, could potentially lead to disqualifications and put the NLD majority in the next parliament at risk.

According to preliminary results, the NLD won more than two-thirds of the contested seats in this month's election. If the results hold, they will allow the party to elect the next president and form the next government.

The vote took place just four years after the long-ruling military junta handed power to a nominally civilian government led by President Thein Sein, who introduced a number of reforms aimed at ending the economic and diplomatic isolation in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The military will still maintain a stronghold on power, as it is guaranteed key ministerial posts such as defense, interior and border security under the constitution. It can also regain full control of the government and maintains control over the economy.

Ye Htut said it will be up to the NLD on how to deal with the country's generals.

“It [depends if] the military is viewed as a partner in the current transition process or pushed away as an obstacle instead of being seen as a partner. It is up to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD to decide," he said.

The opposition has not immediately reacted to Ye Htut's comments.

The NLD won a landslide victory in the country's last free elections, held in 1990; but, the results were ignored by the ruling junta, and Aung San Suu Kyi spent most of the next 20 years under house detention. Thousands more opposition members were jailed or forced into exile, leading to harsh Western-led sanctions against the military regime.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Burmese Service.

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