presidential vote to start on March 17 as transition talks drag on
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[February 08, 2016]
By Hnin Yadana Zaw and Aung Hla Tun
NAYPYITAW/YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's
parliament will begin its election of the new president on March 17,
cutting very close to an April 1 deadline, suggesting talks between Aung
San Suu Kyi's victorious party and the military are likely to take
longer than planned.
But a top military lawmaker on Monday denied that Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy (NLD) and the armed forces were
discussing provisions to change the constitution and allow the
democracy champion to become the country's new president.
Senior NLD members had told the media they would hold presidential
elections in February, but the parliament on Monday decided the
process would start two weeks before the new government is scheduled
to begin its term, on April 1.
"I hereby announce that the meetings of the three presidential
electoral colleges will be held effective March 17," joint chamber
speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than said in parliament.
The NLD swept the historic Nov. 8 election, securing some 80 percent
of elected seats in parliament, or enough to push through its
That kicked off a lengthy transition process during which the
military and the NLD have been locked in negotiations, most probably
over the shape of the new government and transfer of power, but
details of the talks have been murky.
"There is no discussing between the military and NLD about Article
59 (f)," Brigadier General Tin San Naing, the spokesman of the
military caucus in parliament, told Reuters on Monday.
The article, which bars anyone with foreign children and spouses
from becoming president, is seen as being aimed at Suu Kyi, whose
children are British.
It could only be amended with the army's
approval, Tin San Naing added.
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"The article can't be suspended. It's against the constitution. It
has already been discussed in the parliament so it should not be
proposed and discussed again."
The article had been "put in the constitution intentionally, to
protect our people from foreign invasion," he added.
Under the junta-drafted constitution, parliament chooses the
president. Each of the two chambers nominates its vice-presidential
candidate, while the military MPs, who are guaranteed a quarter of
the seats, nominate the third.
Once the candidates are in place, a joint-chamber session picks the
president for a five-year term. The two losing candidates become
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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