Myanmar’s National League for Democracy Consolidates Power

Despite fears that Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi will be blocked from seeking the presidency of Myanmar, her party, the National League for Democracy, appears to be consolidating power all the way down the line.

A week ahead of the scheduled formal presidential nominations, a senior NLD member has told the media that the heads of all states and regions will be appointed from within the party. He quashed earlier suggestions that four chief ministerial positions were set to go to the military.

“We have already selected the chief minister posts. All will be NLD representatives,” Win Htein told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

In November general elections, the NLD pounded the military, winning 77 percent of the vote across the country, effectively ending the military’s dominance of the country despite a constitution rigged in the army’s favor.

Given the magnitude of the party’s victory, intense speculation followed post-election meetings between Suu Kyi and Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, suggesting that negotiations were under way to amend or suspend the 2008 Constitution’s controversial Article 59 (f), which was rigged to effectively exclude Suu Kyi from the presidency.

In return, some expected that the military was seeking chief ministerial posts for the Shan, Arakan and Kachin states and Rangoon Division.

The Constitution mandates that the ministerial posts be directly appointed by the president, a position which will be held by an NLD member.

The NLD claimed overwhelming majorities throughout most of the country in November’s general election, with Arakan and Shan states as the two exceptions. In the state parliaments of Arakan State, the Arakan National Party (ANP) won the most seats, and in Shan State, the majority went to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), followed by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and the NLD.

On Monday, the Parliament announced that the date of presidential nominations had been rescheduled from March 17 to March 10. The NLD’s silence on the issue raised speculation that the negotiations between Suu Kyi and military leaders had not been in the NLD chairwoman’s favor.

Win Htein declined to comment on the rescheduling of the nominations.

Reprinted from The Irrawaddy, with which Asia Sentinel has a content-sharing agreement