Accessibility links

Breaking News

Myanmar Opposition to Meet with President, Army Chief

FILE - Myanmar's National League for Democracy Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seen speaking to media in Yangon.
FILE - Myanmar's National League for Democracy Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seen speaking to media in Yangon.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will meet this week with President Thein Sein and Military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing following her party's landslide victory in general elections.

A statement released by the president on his Facebook page said the meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein will take place Wednesday morning in the capital, Naypyitaw, while the meeting with the military chief is scheduled for later that day.

The president's office and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) have both confirmed the meetings, but declined to provide details of the talks, which will be closed to media.

Early talks

The talks are coming several weeks earlier than expected.

The opposition leader requested the meetings after her party won an overwhelming majority of seats in the November 8 elections. But a government spokesman had said the meetings were not likely to take place until late December after the election commission had finished all of its work, including investigations filed against candidates.

Analysts believe the upcoming meetings could pave the way to peaceful transition.

Hla Kyaw Zaw told VOA Burmese that the military is key to the country’s political shift and talks with the top general are likely to include how to address past allegations of rights abuses by the military.

“[The] military’s position is important to bring a real change in the country and it has to change," she said. "What they fear most is that they might be blamed for what they have done in the past.”

Military still in control

She added that he thinks Aung San Suu Kyi will be flexible in her approach to dealing with the armed forces.

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.

But the military will still maintain a grip 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.

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.