“Peaceful” transition focus of key Myanmar talks

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Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met the country’s president and army chief Wednesday for their first official talks since her party’s emphatic victory in general elections last month.

Suu Kyi and army chief Min Aung Hlaing agreed to work together for stability, rule of law, national reconciliation and development, the military leader’s office said in a statement.

“We have a good result from the meeting,” local media reported Min Aung Hlaing as saying after the talks at his headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) trounced the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in landmark polls on November 8, leaving the party in a position to choose the country’s next president.

Earlier Wednesday, Suu Kyi asked President Thein Sein to ensure a peaceful transition so as not to raise concerns among the public, presidential spokesman Ye Htut told reporters.

“President Thein Sein agreed,” Ye Htut said after the hour-long meeting in the presidential palace.

“This is the final victory of the reform process carried out by current government led by President Thein Sein, as there is no precedent in Myanmar for a government transferring power peacefully to an election winner,” he said.

Political reforms undertaken by Thein Sein in the past five years led to the lifting of international sanctions and Myanmar’s opening up to foreign investment after decades under military rule.

The main challenge for the incoming NLD-led government will be how to overcome the constitutional obstacles to reform, said Myat Thu, founder of the Yangon School of Political Science.

“In addition to a total of 25 per cent of seats in (the two houses of) parliament, the constitution also allocates three key ministers in cabinet, and the security and border affairs ministers in regional governments to the military,” Myat Thu told dpa.

“NLD can’t carry out important constitutional changes without the support of the military. So, discussion with the military is vital to make the future transition smooth,” he said.

Absent from today’s meetings was influential Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann, whom Suu Kyi has reportedly met several times since the November poll.

Former USDP chairman Shwe Mann is seen as closer to Suu Kyi than most senior establishment figures, and a possible presidential contender as Suu Kyi herself is constitutionally barred from holding the post.

The new government is not due to take power until early next year, with the question still open as to whom the parliament will select to be the country’s next president.

Suu Kyi has said that she will “make all the decisions” in the new government, and that the incoming president would have to “act in accordance with the decisions of the party.”

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