News / Asia

    In Myanmar, Rumors Swirl of Possible Aung San Suu Kyi Presidency

    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, walks along with lawmakers of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to attend the inauguration session of Union Parliament, Feb. 8, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, walks along with lawmakers of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to attend the inauguration session of Union Parliament, Feb. 8, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
    Katie Arnold

    There is growing speculation in Myanmar that long time opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi could become the country’s next president, following an announcement that nominations for the office won’t be revealed until the middle of next month (March 17).

    Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — the National League for Democracy (NLD) — won an overwhelming victory in last year's general election, but she is constitutionally barred from the presidency under Article 59 (f), which prohibits anyone with children holding foreign citizenship from the nation’s top position.

    The president and vice presidents will be elected by the Union parliament before the next government begins their term on the April 1. The lower house, upper house and military each select a candidate for the three positions, who then compete to become president. 

    The nominations were expected this month and political observers suspect that the announcement has been delayed in order to create space for continuing negotiations between Aung San Su Kyi and the military. 

    She has held several meetings with Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing about the structure of the next government, according to reports, including a possible deal to put her in the president’s seat.

    Late Sunday, simultaneous reports by pro-government news broadcasters said “positive results could come out of the negotiation for the suspension of the constitution Article 59 [f]”fueling suspicions further.

    Parliament chairman Mann Win Khaing Than, right, walks to attend the inauguration session of Union Parliament, Feb. 8, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
    Parliament chairman Mann Win Khaing Than, right, walks to attend the inauguration session of Union Parliament, Feb. 8, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

    Speculation

    But neither the NLD nor military have released official statements about the negotiations. Most members of parliament contacted by VOA have said they have been told not to talk about the matter. 

    Khin Zaw Win, a political analyst at the Tampadipa Institute, has accused the NLD of ‘feeding the rumor mill’ by placing a gag order on its MPs. He also described the new parliament as ‘a scene from a traffic accident’, with large cordons separating the new lawmakers from members of the public and media. 

    A senior NLD insider, who asked not to be named, has told VOA not to expect Aung San Suu Kyi’s name on the ballot sheet next month.

    “There have been developments, but it will take time. Even if the military does agree, there is a legal process that we have to follow so when it comes to next month’s announcement, you will not see her be named as president,” the source said. 

    Tom Lambert from Andaman Research and Advisory, agrees that the reports and rumors swirling around Myanmar deserve caution. 

    “Nothing the military has said, done, or implied suggests that they have shifted their position that having Aung San Suu Kyi as president is a red-line they are willing to cross. Until we know the content of Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi’s discussions, all rumors are suspect and should be treated extremely carefully.” 

    Myanmar lawmakers gather after a regular session of the lower house of parliament, Feb 1, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Feb. 1, 2016.
    Myanmar lawmakers gather after a regular session of the lower house of parliament, Feb 1, 2016, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Feb. 1, 2016.

    Concessions

    A permanent amendment to the constitution must be approved by at least 75 percent of both houses of parliament before going to a national referendum. The military has reserved 25 percent of seats in the legislature, which means the NLD cannot push through the amendment without the backing of the army. 

    To win support from the military would require concessions. Last week, a local paper claimed that Aung San Suu Kyi may give chief ministerial positions to the military — on top of the three that are already reserved for them according to the constitution.

    Observers say if true, it is an offer the military may accept. 

    “The military have really felt the weight of the election result. The USDP is almost finished as the political arm of the military and they will be open to new offers that will protect their political position.” said Khin Zaw Win.

    But for now, most of Myanmar must wait while the NLD and the military hold their discussions behind closed doors. 

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora