Myanmar sets earlier date for presidential nominations

Myanmar to announce presidential candidates on March 10, one week earlier than planned

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) arrives for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar February 1, 2016.

Myanmar is set to announce its presidential nominations on March 10, the speaker of its upper house of parliament said on Tuesday, advancing the original date by a week, as a lengthy political transition in the Southeast Asian nation enters its last stages.

The original date for lawmakers and the powerful military to put forward their presidential nominations was March 17, but Myanmar MPs on Monday said the parliament expected to speed up the process.

"The date for holding the meetings of the three presidential electoral colleges has been put forward by one week, to March 10," said Mahn Win Khaing Than, the speaker of the upper house of parliament.

The news follows three meetings on the transition between military chief Min Aung Hlaing and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won 80 percent of elected seats in the Nov. 8 election.

Observers have said the date for the presidential nomination had been set as late as possible to give Suu Kyi time to negotiate with the army over an article in the constitution that bars her election as president, but talks do not appear to have led to any breakthroughs.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (L), commander-in-chief of Myanmar, shakes hands with NLD party leader Aung San Suu Kyi before their meeting in Naypyitaw on December 2, 2015.

Suu Kyi is barred from the top political office because her children are foreign nationals, as was her late husband.

The NLD has no number two after Suu Kyi, who has said she will control the government from "above the president”.

On Sunday, Buddhist nationalists staged a demonstration after NLD lawmakers said they planned to submit a proposal to suspend article 59 (f) to parliament.

“We believe this section of the constitution protects our country from being influenced by foreign countries... We – the nationalist activists -- will never accept such effort," one of the organiser’s of the demonstration Win Ko Ko Lat, told Anadolu Agency.

The people of Myanmar have waited almost four months after the elections to know who will replace outgoing President Thein Sein, who leaves office on March 31.

On March 10, lawmakers are to nominate three presidential candidates, one by each of the lower and upper chambers and one from the military, which is guaranteed a quarter of the seats and an effective veto on major charter change.

The new president will then be chosen for a five-year term by a vote of the combined houses, as the two losing candidates become vice-presidents.

It is unclear if the presidential vote will take place on the same day the nominations are announced.

TRTWorld and agencies