October 23, 2016

Suu Kyi set to become ‘president’s boss’

The upper house of the Myanmar Parliament has passed a proposal to create a new position for political leader Aung San Suu Kyi as “state adviser” that will give her a powerful role in running the country.

Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest because of her push for democracy, guided the NLD to a landslide win at the polls in November. She was unable to become president because of a constitutional block because her two sons are British citizens, as was her late husband.

Htin Kyaw, a close confidant of Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, was instead nominated and sworn in as the country’s new president on Wednesday, after more than five decades of military rule in the country.

Suu Kyi was sworn in as minister of foreign affairs, education and energy but an NLD MP described her position as “the president’s boss”, indicating that Suu Kyi’s party is helping her achieve a pledge she has repeatedly made to be above the president.

“President Htin Kyaw has the right to propose the law to appoint a ‘state adviser’, which is someone who can control the president and all the Cabinet members,” said Khin Maung Myint, an NLD MP in the upper house, before the vote.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from the capital Naypyidaw, said that the new position can be compared to the post of a prime minister.

“It is an easy win for Aung San Suu Kyi,” she said. “A large majority in the upper house backed the creation of the position giving her far-reaching powers.

“She will not only advise to the government and parliament but also to the judiciary. She is above all the parties in the parliament. It seems that her powers are above the president.

“She is expected to resign from the other posts to focus on the new position.”

Myanmar has been under military or military-dominated rule since a coup in 1962, and the elections in November, which brought the new government to power, were the first openly contested polls since 1990.

Htin Kyaw took over from former general Thein Sein, who has led the country since 2011. Under Thein Sein, the government set in motion reforms which have opened up the once-isolated country to the outside world, including to foreign investment.

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