Myanmar parliament nominates candidates for president

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NAYPYITAW - Myanmar’s parliament Tuesday nominated five candidates for president, and the country’s junta chief was not on the list.

The candidates, according to parliament sources, are: Prime Minister Thein Sein, a member of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and Saw Thein Aung, leader of the ethnic Karen State Progressive Party, both members of the lower house; Sai Mon Khun of the USDP and Aye Maung, leader of the Rakhine National Development Party, both members of the upper house; and Tin Aung Myint Oo, first secretary in the ruling junta, who is among the military appointees in parliament.

The two chambers are to form an electoral college to soon choose the president.

It had been widely speculated that the junta’s chief, Senior General Than Shwe, 78, would assume the presidency, but Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house, said Monday on the first parliamentary session in 22 years, that only elected members of parliament could become president, vice president and cabinet members, and Than Shwe did not run in November’s elections.

Thein Sein was now deemed the most likely candidate to become president, but analysts said they believed Than Shwe would attempt to control the next government by staying on as a “patron” of the USDP or by keeping his position as army commander-in-chief.

The new president is to select the next cabinet, which was expected to be packed with USDP members, and sit on the National Defence and Security Council, which is to control the military.

The military also has a firm grasp on parliament after the USDP won 77 percent of the elected seats in November’s election, the first to be held in 20 years. Twenty-five per cent, or 166, of the seats are also appointed by the military.

When parliament convened Monday, former general Shwe Mann was elected lower house speaker while Khin Aung Myint, another ex-general and the current culture minister, was chosen upper house speaker.

The two chambers are to meet in Naypyitaw this week. The regional and state parliaments are to meet separately in their own capitals.

Filed under: Politics

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