NAYPYITAW: President Htin Kyaw, newly sworn in as Myanmar’s first fully civilian leader in over half a century before hundreds of lawmakers, most of them from his National League Party (NLP), pledged to amend the military-drafted constitution to meet “democratic standards.”
Htin Kyaw, trusted confidant of Aung San Suu Kyi, is expected to act as a proxy for her, said he is “happy and proud” to be responsible for the government, but that Suu Kyi is the leader of his party and a nation with 55 million population, while she remains constitutionally barred.
His short speech in Parliament Wednesday didn’t explicitly say how he would change the constitution, but it was a clear reference to what the new ruling party has sought for months: to allow Suu Kyi to be president instead. The constitution prevents that through a clause barring the office to anyone with foreign family members. Suu Kyi’s late husband was British, as are their two sons, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The financial paper said, “in taking up the subject of constitutional change in a speech laying out the new administration’s first priorities, Htin Kyaw raised the potential for conflict between the civilian government and the military as they enter into this new era in Myanmar’s political history. The military, which holds veto power over significant constitutional changes, has unrelentingly opposed changes that would reduce its political power or clear the way for Suu Kyi to lead officially.”
The ceremony, in the Parliament hall, attended by large audience, included the commander-in-chief of the military. Min Aung Hlaing, in a speech Sunday, declared that the constitution must be upheld and the military must remain central to politics.
Under the constitution, the military is guaranteed control over the key ministries of border affairs, defense and home affairs.
The new president hosted a gala dinner Wednesday evening for about 200 guests, including foreign diplomats.