Suu Kyi unlikely to take cabinet post

President-elect Htin Kyaw is due to take power at the end of the month. Source: Wikimedia

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi will lead her National League for Democracy (NLD) into government, staying on as party leader, and she is unlikely to take a formal cabinet position, the party has announced.

Myanmar’s parliament last week elected Htin Kyaw, her close friend and confidant, as the next president, after she led the party to electoral triumph last November. She is constitutionally barred from becoming head of state because of her two British children.

Suu Kyi has vowed to run Myanmar from “above the president”.

“Taking positions is not that important any more… In the United States there are many famous lawmakers in the parliament who are very influential, but they don’t take any position in the cabinet,” said party spokesman Zaw Myint Maung.

“It’s the same here. She will lead the party so, she will lead the government formed by that party,” he said.

Myanmar’s military still holds a quarter of parliamentary seats and the constitutional right to nominate one of the three presidential candidates. Its candidate, retired general Myint Swe and current controversial chief minister of Yangon, last week became the country’s first vice president and therefore second-in-command.

President-elect Htin Kyaw is due to address parliament today (Monday) with his proposals to scrap 10 existing ministries as part of a major government shake-up which will also include the establishment of an ethnic affairs ministry.

Few details have been made available but the party pledges that civil servants need not fear for their jobs and re-training courses will be provided to allow them to cope in the new structure. It is not clear how this shake-up will be achieved without job losses.

The NLD’s Central Executive Committee was set to meet at Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nay Pyi Taw home over the weekend to pick the 18-member cabinet. CEC member Win Htein has said the NLD would share the government posts with other parties and scholars, and only take between 30 and 40 per cent of cabinet positions.

The NLD said it would appoint all chief ministers from the party despite calls from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy to have the Shan State chief minister selected from its ranks. The Arakan National Party in Rakhine State also demanded the right to pick the chief minister. The NLD is only a minority party in both state parliaments.

MPs are due to vote on the proposed ministers and senior civil servants on Tuesday.