Suu Kyi enforces ruler on unstable Rakhine

Mrauk U, Rakhine State. The enchanting destination is extremely difficult to reach because of the isolated state’s poor infrastructure. Source: Wikimedia

More than half of the cabinet members in Myanmar’s new government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) will be non-party scholars and members of other parties, central executive committee Win Htein said, while adding that the party would controversially select a chief minister for two unstable states.

The committee met at the Naypyidaw home of chairwoman Suu Kyi to discuss the appointment of chief ministers in the 14 states and regions, two of which the party failed to win a majority in, and the formation of a new government.

Win Htein announced the NLD-led administration would slash the number of ministries from 36 to 22, adding that government officials would be provided with training to enable them to move jobs and that they need not fear job cuts.

He said that the appointment of regional chief ministers under the 2008 military-drafted constitution should be decided on by the party that won the national election rather than regional polls.

The NLD already had internally nominated members of parliament for state and regional government leadership roles, he said.

The party failed to win a majority in Rakhine and Shan states.

Rakhine’s Arakan National Party (ANP) won the majority of seats in its state parliament, while the former government party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, won a majority in Shan State when combined with the military representatives. The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) came second.

The ANP demanded the right to chose the chief minister questioning the NLD’s democratic credentials and threatening to oppose the minority NLD in the state parliament if it refused.

Suu Kyi, however, had appointed NLD MP Nyi Pu as chief minister of Rakhine State, Win Htein said.

The NLD is already facing anger in unstable Rakhine State with the ANP saying it would end its political alliance with the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a coalition of eight ethnic-minority parties that want a federal political system and autonomy for the states.

The NLD would consider appointing a chief minister from another party, he said. Sai Nyunt Lwin, general secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said: “We can assume that the give-and-take plan did not materialise. I don’t know why exactly. We shall not be included in choosing the chief minister. Apart from Rakhine and Shan states, the NLD would certainly fill the chief minister posts in 12 regions and states. Rakhine and Shan states are a separate matter.”

In the capital, the national-level upper and lower houses of parliament and military representatives are preparing to submit their three nominations for president on March 10.

A vote by the combined houses will determine the next head of state with the two runners-up becoming vice presidents. The military gets to choose one presidential nominee. The NLD holds a large majority in both houses so it will be able to pick the president, although leader Suu Kyi is barred from the role because her children are British citizens.

As a money-saving measure, the transfer ceremony will be held in parliament, not a large parade as was planned by outgoing president Thein Sein, Win Htein said.

“We want to hold presidential power-transfer ceremony simply according to the constitution, and we don’t want to spend too much money on it,” he said.