Myanmar’s president promises smooth transfer of power
15 November 2015
- From the section Asia
Myanmar’s President Thein Sein has promised a smooth transfer of power to Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party following last week’s election.
He made the comments at a meeting of political leaders in Yangon.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has won about 80% of contested seats with just a few results still to be announced.
If power is transferred, it will end more than 50 years of military-backed government in Myanmar.
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At a gathering of all Myanmar’s political parties, the president said all duties would be transferred to the next government systematically and on schedule.
He said: “We will make sure it will be smooth and stable without having to worry about anything.”
Thein Sein has made similar comments online before, but he has now repeated them in public.
The president also said that the successful election was a result of the reform process put in place by his Union Solidarity and Development Party, which has won only 41 of the 478 seats that have so far declared. The NLD has 387.
The military has already said it will abide by the election result.
Ms Suu Kyi is expected to hold talks with the president and the army chief in Nay Pyi Taw next week.
The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Yangon says they will face the thorny issue of the upcoming “lame duck” parliamentary session. The old pre-election Burmese parliament is due to gather next week for a final session that runs until the end of January.
Only once the “lame duck” session ends will the new NLD-dominated parliament gather. It will immediately choose a new speaker, quite possibly Ms Suu Kyi, before selecting two vice-presidents and a president.
Election results came in slowly following the vote on 8 November.
It was only on Friday – five days after the poll – that the NLD finally won the two-thirds majority it needs to form the next government. It needs that amount because the constitution reserves 25% of seats in both houses of parliament for the army.
The process of choosing the next president will begin in January, when the new parliament gathers.
Aung San Suu Kyi has told the BBC that she, as the leader of the winning party, will be Myanmar’s next de-facto leader.
Does the NLD now control Myanmar?
Not really – it has enough seats in the upper and lower house to choose the president but the army has 25% of seats and controls key ministries, so they will need to work together.
Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president?
No – the constitution, written by the military, bars people with foreign spouses or offspring, as she does, from the top job. The clause was widely seen as being written specifically to prevent her from taking office. But Ms Suu Kyi she has repeatedly said she would lead the country anyway if the NLD won.
Can the NLD just change the constitution?
No – the military can veto any moves to change it.
Was the election fair?
“Largely,” said Ms Suu Kyi. But hundreds of thousands of people, including the minority Muslim Rohingya, were not allowed to vote, and no voting took place in seven areas where ethnic conflict is rife.
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 recognised as citizens – were denied voting rights.