Politics, Asia - Pacific

Myanmar MPs approve Suu Kyi as ‘advisor to state'

Leader of ruling party to take post fulfilling a role similar to that of a prime minister despite opposition from military MPs

05.04.2016
Myanmar MPs approve Suu Kyi as ‘advisor to state'

Yangon

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar’s new parliament approved Tuesday a bill aimed at appointing democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as “advisor to the state” (state counselor).

NLD spokesperson Nyan Win told Anadolu Agency that the position would enable Suu Kyi “to work on all key issues with cabinet and parliament” -- despite a constitutional clause barring her from presidency.

“In this way, she would overcome the constitutional prohibitions,” Nyan Win said at party headquarters in commercial capital Yangon.

The measure -- which would see Suu Kyi fulfill a role similar to that of a prime minister -- passed the lower house, despite all military-appointed lawmakers abstaining from the vote after House Speaker Win Myint refused to permit more time for its review.

After the upper house approved the bill Friday, Suu Kyi -- the leader of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party -- gave up two of the four ministerial posts she was sworn in to last week.

She, however, kept her positions as minister of the President’s Office and Foreign Affairs -- a post that gives her a spot on the 11-member National Defense and Security Council, the highest ruling body in government.

The state counselor role is widely seen as an attempt to protect Suu Kyi from accusations that she is acting unconstitutionally by taking on so much power.

In both houses, the military-appointed bloc -- which holds 25 percent of seats -- strongly objected to the measure, saying it bypassed the military-drafted constitution.

The bill, which includes five chapters and eight articles, stipulates that the state counselor’s term will match that of the president, who is set to remain in office throughout the term of the current parliament.

The NLD insists that the bill is constitutional and needs no amendment or replacement.

Another NLD spokesperson, Win Htein, told Anadolu Agency on Monday that Suu Kyi “would not give any command or order or instruction to the cabinet and parliaments, [but would] just give her advice.”

Earlier Tuesday, the union parliament approved the appointment of two new ministers nominated by President Htin Kyaw to fill the two posts given up Suu Kyi.

Myo Thein Gyi will serve as education minister and Pyae Myint Htun as the minister of electric power and energy.

Meanwhile, Htin Kyaw’s predecessor -- Thein Sein, a former general who introduced dramatic reforms under his five-year quasi-civilian government -- joined the Buddhist monkhood, the Ministry of Information confirmed Tuesday after photos of him in monk garb circulated on social media.

He will spend five days in the robes at Dhamma Dipati Monastery near Pyin Oo Lwin, home to more than a dozen military bases near Myanmar’s second largest city Mandalay, according to the ministry.

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