Myanmar's parliament has moved up by a week the deadline for nominating the country's next president, bringing the nation a step closer to a historic transition of power.
The new deadline, set Tuesday, means the upper and lower houses of parliament and the military bloc that holds a constitutionally mandated 25 percent of seats will now nominate their presidential candidates by March 10. The original deadline was March 17.
The new president is virtually certain to be from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party. After its landslide election victory in November, the NLD commands majorities in both chambers of parliament, so it will get to nominate two candidates.
Suu Kyi cannot be president because the constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or children from holding the executive office. Suu Kyi's two sons are British, as were her late husband. She has not yet announced whom she will name as her party's candidate, but previously said that the president will act as her proxy, carrying out her decisions.
Some senior NLD officials had floated the idea that the article barring her from becoming president could be suspended, but that proposal seems to have failed in the face of opposition from the military, which remains a potent political force. Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 until 2011, when a military-backed elected government took office.
The two nominees who don't get elected to the presidency will automatically become the country's vice presidents.
"I think the parliament changed the date of the presidential nomination to earlier because the new government wants to have some more time to prepare before the transfer of power,'' said Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst.