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Aung San Suu Kyi


Htin Kyaw has been sworn in as Myanmar’s new president in a joint session of parliament in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

The 69-year-old is the first elected civilian leader in more than 50 years.

Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD) takes over from Thein Sein, who introduced wide-ranging reforms during his five years in power.

Although NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency, she has said she will rule by proxy.Htin Kyaw sworn in as Myanmar president

The handover completes the transition that began after the NLD won a landslide win in elections in November 2015.

Htin Kyaw said he would be “faithful” to the people of Myanmar, as he took the oath of office.

Vice-presidents Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, who lost to Htin Kyaw in the presidential vote earlier this month, were also sworn in, as were new cabinet ministers.

Most of the ministers belong to the NLD. The list includes Aung San Suu Kyi who will be in charge of foreign affairs, the president’s office, education, and energy and electric power.

However, the military is appointing its own nominees for three key ministries – defense, home affairs and border affairs.

In a brief speech, Htin Kyaw noted challenges ahead including the need for a nationwide ceasefire. The government has been engaged in armed conflicts with various ethnic groups for decades.

Htin Kyaw also spoke about the constitution complying with modern democratic values, in a nod to the NLD’s stated goal during the election campaign of changing the constitution.

Correspondents say this is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the NLD government’s relationship with the army, who have 25% of parliamentary seats. It means the army retains the power to veto any changes to the constitution, as that would require more than 75% of votes.

The constitution contains a controversial clause barring anyone with family members who have another nationality from becoming president – widely seen as aimed at preventing Aung San Suu Kyi from taking power, as her two sons are British.

Despite the restriction Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains hugely popular and prominent in Myanmar, has vowed to act “above the president”.

Aung San Suu Kyi will reportedly head up foreign affairs, energy, education and be minister in Myanmar’s new cabinet.

Her party, the NDL, won historic elections in the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency herself and had been widely expected not to take a ministry.

Her name was on a list of 18 submitted to parliament by President-elect Htin Kyaw.

There are no other women appointed to the cabinet.

Myanmar’s constitution, drafted by the outgoing military rulers, prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president because her two sons have British passports.Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar foreign affairs

President-elect Htin Kyaw is Aung San Suu Kyi’s close ally, and she previously said that she would be “above the president” anyway, governing through a proxy.

The cabinet announcement came as a surprise – many had assumed that Aung San Suu Kyi would control the government from the outside.

If Aung San Suu Kyi does become foreign minister, under the complex political structure she will have to stand down as a lawmaker and refrain from all NLD activities.

Fifteen of the names on the list were chosen by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and former political prisoner, and three by the commander-in-chief of the army.

Parliament is expected to vote later in the week to confirm the posts.

After his election last week, Htin Kyaw said his appointment was “Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory”.

The NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, despite the military occupying 25% of seats, so the candidate it backed was all but guaranteed to win.

Despite weeks of negotiation prior to the vote in parliament, the NLD was unable to persuade the military to remove or suspend the clause that prevented Aung San Suu Kyi taking office.

Htin Kyaw has become Myanmar’s first civilian president after more than 50 years of military rule.

The parliament has elected Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November.

Htin Kyaw said his appointment was “Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory”.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the post by the constitution, but has said she will lead the country anyway.

Htin Kyaw won with 360 of the 652 votes cast in the two houses of parliament, with lawmakers erupting into applause when the result was announced.

“Victory! This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. Thank you,” Htin Kyaw said after winning.

In second place was Myint Swe, who was nominated by the military and received 213 votes.

Photo AP

Photo AP

A close ally of former junta leader Than Shwe, Myint Swe is seen as a hardliner.

Myint Swe was followed by Htin Kyaw’s running mate and ethnic Chin candidate Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes.

They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president respectively.

Myanmar’s president is chosen from candidates put forward by each of the two houses of parliament, in addition to a third nominee from the military.

Aung San Suu Kyi’ NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, despite the military occupying 25% of seats, so the candidate it backed was all but guaranteed to win.

However, correspondents warn of increasing confrontation in parliament in the future as lawmakers push against an army determined to hold onto the powers it has under the constitution.

The army still controls key security ministries and also has the power to veto any changes to the constitution as that would require more than 75% of parliamentary votes.

Correspondents say that Htin Kyaw’s election is widely supported among the Burmese people, as he has a solid reputation and is known to be trusted by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Despite Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity and prominence in Myanmar – also known as Burma – she could not take the presidency herself.

A clause in the constitution, widely seen as being tailored against Aung San Suu Kyi, says anyone whose children have another nationality cannot become president. Her children hold British passports.

Despite weeks of negotiation prior to the vote, the NLD were unable to persuade the military of Myanmar to remove or suspend the clause to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to take office.

Aung San Suu Kyi has previously said that she would be “above the president” anyway, ruling through a proxy.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, has won Myanmar’s general election, officials say.

With more than 80% of contested seats now declared, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president, ending decades of military-backed rule.

A quarter of seats are automatically held by the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.

Under the constitution Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president herself.

Despite this, the election was seen as the first openly contested poll in Myanmar – also known as Burma – in 25 years.Aung San Suu Kyi's Party Wins Historic Majority

By early Friday, the NLD needed two more votes to reach the threshold required for a majority.

Then at midday, the electoral commission said the party had taken 348 of the 664 seats in the two houses of parliament. This represents a two-thirds majority of the contested seats.

Votes are being counted and the final tally is not expected for several days.

The process of choosing Myanmar’s new president will begin in January, when parliament reconvenes.

Current President Thein Sein and the head of the military had already said they would respect the outcome and work with the new government.

They and the NLD are expected to being talks next week on the way forward.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election – turnout was estimated at about 80%.

It was widely seen as a fair vote though there were reports of irregularities, and hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognized as citizens – were denied voting rights.

The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) – which won the last, widely criticized election five years ago – has so far gained about 5% of seats contested.

Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won her own seat after the country’s historic parliamentary election.

Aung San Suu Kyi has requested meetings with the military-backed leadership next week to discuss national reconciliation.

Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has taken a decisive lead in results from November 8 election.

With about 40% of seats declared, the NLD has taken nearly 90% of the vote, leaving the military-backed USDP party with about 5% of seats.

However, a quarter of seats are reserved for the military.

Aung Suu Kyi sent letters to President Thein Sein, the commander of the armed forces and the parliamentary speaker.

She has not declared victory yet, and is treading carefully, say correspondents – calling for meetings next week with the three most senior figures in the current government to discuss an orderly transfer of power.

Photo AP

Photo AP

“A peaceful implementation of the people’s desire, which they expressed via the November 8 election, is very important for the country’s dignity and people’s peace of mind,” she wrote in letters made public by the NLD, according to the Irrawaddy news website.

“So I want to discuss with you in the spirit of national reconciliation. So please arrange a time for the meeting that would be convenient for you next week.”

In a response on his Facebook page, Information Minister Ye Htut reiterated that the government would respect the results of the poll, but said the requested meeting would only take place after the election commission had done its work, said AP news agency.

Aung Suu Kyi earlier retained her own seat and will return as lawmaker for her Kawhmu constituency in Rangoon – though she leads the NLD she is barred by the constitution from being president.

However, she has said “that won’t stop me from making all the decisions”.

The election commission is slowly releasing results.

The USDP, which has been in power in Myanmar since 2011, has taken 10 of the 491 seats being contested in both houses of parliament, compared to 163 by the NLD.

A quarter of the 664 parliamentary seats are set aside for the army. For the NLD to have the winning majority and be able to select the president, it will need at least two-thirds of the remaining seats – or 329.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in last week’s election in Myanmar. Turnout was estimated at about 80%.

Hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognized as citizens – were denied voting rights.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is voting in the first openly contested general elections in 25 years after decades of military rule.

The ruling Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), backed by the military, is one of the frontrunners.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to make large gains, although she is barred from running for the presidency.

Large crowds gathered in Yangon as Aung San Suu Kyi arrived to cast her vote.

Across the country, long queues formed at some polling booths, with reports of people queuing from long before dawn.

About 30 million people are eligible to vote in the election in Myanmar.

Clear results are not expected until November 9.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

More than 6,000 candidates from over 90 parties are vying to be elected to the 664-seat parliament in the first national elections since a nominally civilian government took power in 2011.

However, 25% of seats are reserved for unelected military representatives, who are expected to side with the USDP.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is barred from the presidency as the constitution disqualifies anyone with foreign offspring.

On November 5, Aung San Suu Kyi said she would be “above the president” if her party won. The NLD must take 67% of all contested seats in order to gain a majority.

Current President Thein Sein said he would accept the election result.

Hundreds of thousands of people – including minority Rohingya Muslims – have been denied voting rights, raising concerns about the fairness of the poll.

Ahead of the vote, security has been stepped up across the country, with some 40,000 police guarding polling stations.

Ruled by the junta for nearly half a century, Myanmar has seen economic and political reform in recent years.

Aung San Suu Kyi has already raised concerns about poll fraud and voting irregularities. In the 1990 election, the NLD won a majority, but the results were largely ignored by the generals.

For its part, the government has warned that rapid change could lead to civil unrest.

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Myanmar’s government has signed on October 15 what it says is a nationwide ceasefire deal with eight armed ethnic groups.

The signing ceremony in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, was the culmination of two years of peace talks.

However, the most active rebel groups – seven of the 15 groups involved in negotiations – stayed out of the deal.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been engaged in armed conflict with various groups seeking greater autonomy since independence from the British in 1948.

The government hopes today’s deal will be the first step on a path to a lasting political settlement.

Among the groups which have not signed are the largest armed group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), whose Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controls large areas of north-eastern Kachin state and regularly clashes with the Burmese army.Myanmar signs ceasefire deal with rebels

Political discussions are now due to begin within months on the structure of a new, and likely more federal, system of government.

However, there are still concerns that peace with the groups signing the agreement could be short lived, if the Burmese army ignores the ceasefire, as it has with others.

Earlier this week, all of the groups signing were removed from the government’s list of “unlawful associations”, a step towards bringing them into mainstream politics.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Peace Council, the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) were removed from the list on October 13.

They joined three other armed groups removed on October 12: the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), and the Karen National Union (KNU) – Myanmar’s oldest armed group, which has been fighting for nearly seven decades.

The seven groups which have not signed are not far behind, and have agreed a draft deal, negotiators said.

Many of Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups have long demanded greater autonomy, or outright independence, from central government, which is dominated by the Burmese majority.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has previously urged rebel groups to focus more on a lasting deal than a quick one, was not at the signing ceremony.

State media had reported that representatives from the European Union, India, China, Japan, and the United Nations would be at the signing.

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Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to begin her first visit to China on June 10, at a time of tension between the two countries.

Aung San Suu Kyi will meet President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang, but no other details have been provided.

Relations between Myanmar (also known as Burma) and China have cooled in recent years, partly because of violence near their mutual border.

Myanmar has been fighting rebels in its eastern Kokang region, which borders China’s Yunnan province.

China is concerned about violence spilling over the border. At least five people in Yunnan died in March when an aircraft from Myanmar dropped a bomb on a sugar cane field.

China sent patrols to the border in response.

The Chinese government department handling Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit would not be making any details of the trip public nor inviting media, other than state media, to any events.Aung San Suu Kyi China visit

This visit is meant to improve ties between Myanmar’s opposition leader and China but she will be closely watched for various issues.

Many are already calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to recognize her similarities to fellow Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo during her visit.

Chinese dissident and writer Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”.

While Myanmar’s military junta was under Western sanctions and Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, China remained a loyal ally.

Since reforms were introduced in 2011, the government of President Thein Sein has allied itself closely with the US, although China continues to help develop major infrastructure projects in Myanmar.

Given the possibility that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will do well in upcoming elections, Beijing is determined to put pragmatism first and build a relationship with a woman whose politics it deplores, she adds.

As head of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to play a key role in the presidential elections this November.

Aung San Suu Kyi is unlikely to run for president, however, as a clause in the constitution blocks her from standing because her husband and children are foreign citizens.

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President Barack Obama has met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon.

At a news briefing with the US president, Aung San Suu Kyi has said constitutional rules which bar her from running for president because her sons are half British are “unfair, unjust and undemocratic”.

She said the reform process in the once military-ruled nation had hit a “bumpy patch”.

Aung San Suu Kyi said it could be brought on track with international help.

President Barack Obama said the reforms were “by no means complete or irreversible”.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, moved from military to civilian rule in 2010 and is governed by a military-backed civilian administration.

Under Thein Sein, many political prisoners have been freed and media restrictions eased. The pro-democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest, has rejoined the political fold and holds a small block of seats in parliament.

President Barack Obama has met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon

President Barack Obama has met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon

Critics have warned that reforms have stalled in recent months, as all eyes turn to 2015 when the next general election will be held.

A clause in the new constitution states that anyone whose spouse or children are foreign citizens cannot run for the top job. Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband was British and her two sons are British citizens.

Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters outside her home: “I always warn against over-optimism, because that could lead to complacency.

“Our reform process is going through a bumpy patch, but this bumpy patch is something we can negotiate with commitment, with help and understanding from our friends around the world.

“What we need is a healthy balance of optimism and pessimism.”

Barack Obama was in the Burmese capital, Nay Pyi Taw, on November 13 for an Asian summit where he held talks with President Thein Sein.

He said the process of reform was “by no means complete or irreversible” and added that the US “recognizes the challenges ahead and cannot be complacent”.

“I don’t understand a provision that would bar someone from running for president because of who their children are. That doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi said the Burmese people supported the opposition’s call to amend the clause, but added: “I don’t think it’s because they want me to be president, but because they recognize it’s unfair, unjust and undemocratic.”

Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in the by-elections in 2012. It did not contest the November 2010 general election because of laws it said were unfair.

Barack Obama said he and Aung San Suu Kyi had discussed ways of bolstering Myanmar’s transition.

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