Myanmar’s army chief Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy are set to extend their terms for another five years as the leader of National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi, is negotiating the terms of transition with the military, a Reuters report said Saturday, citing a local newspaper. The move means Hlaing has strengthened his position in the country’s military, and that there will not be any senior-level reshuffle in the army.
Myanmar’s parliament had announced earlier in the week that the parliamentary committees will start discussing the three nominees for presidency on March 17. The three candidates would be nominated by the lower and upper houses of Parliament, and by the military. After the names are announced, the parliament would vote for the three nominees, out of whom one will be named as the president and the other two will be named as the vice presidents.
Suu Kyi’s party defeated the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is backed by the military, in November, beginning a transition that would end on April 1 when the new government starts ruling. The win allows NLD to push forward its nominee for the presidency, but the party will still have to deal with the military, which has been guaranteed 25 percent of the seats in the parliament, and the three security ministers. The details of the negotiations between NLD and the military are not known.
“Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is turning 60 soon, will take the duty of the commander-in-chief for five more years,” the local newspaper said, citing a military source, according to Reuters. “The decisions were announced at the recent quarterly meeting of top-level military officials.”
The newspaper did not reportedly clarify the legal basis on which the move was made or if it would need to be approved by the president. The current regulations state that the army chief has to retire at the age of 60.
It is believed that the NLD will get the president’s post and a vice president’s seat due to its majority in both the houses of the Parliament. But a clause in the constitution, Article 59 (f), denies anyone with a spouse or children with a different nationality from becoming the president. Suu Kyi’s late husband was British and so are her children, which may be an issue for her to take the post.
Suu Kyi and NLD have also been negotiating with the military and Hlaing to get their support to amend the constitution, a move that requires over 75 percent votes. Since the military holds 25 percent of the seats in the parliament, the Article 59 (f) cannot be scrapped from the constitution without the military’s support.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Myanmar’s outgoing president Thein Sein cancelled his trip to attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit in California next week without giving a reason for the move.