World Bulletin/News Desk
Myanmar’s military-backed leaders have agreed to discuss amending a law that bars democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president, a government spokesperson said Friday.
The announcement followed unprecedented talks between Myanmar’s military and political leaders and major opposition parties in the country's capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
The meeting would have been unthinkable before the country emerged from military rule three years ago, but despite the pledge to discuss constitutional amendments critics have dismissed the talks as a public relations exercise ahead of a visit by United States President Barack Obama next month.
Ye Htut, spokesperson to President Thein Sein, denied those allegations after Friday’s meeting, the Irrawaddy website reported.
He added that the delegates "agreed to discuss the issue of amending the constitution in parliament, according to the law."
If Suu Kyi is to lead the country after a historic general election late next year, she will need the blessing of the generals she spent decades defying.
The military is guaranteed a quarter of all seats in parliament, giving it an effective veto over any constitutional changes.
A clause in the 2008 constitution barring anyone with foreign relatives from being president is widely believed to have been written specifically to prevent Suu Kyi, who has two British children and is the widow of a British academic, from ever leading the country.
The National League for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi’s party, has gathered 5 million signatures for a petition calling on the military to relinquish its veto on constitutional changes.
Suu Kyi spent a total of 15 years under house arrest for leading pro-democracy activists against the former military junta. She was released in 2010 before the country began a series of sweeping democratic reforms, including freeing hundreds of political prisoners and relaxing media censorship.
If parliament amends the clause barring her from being president in time for next year’s election, the enormously popular opposition leader would likely achieve a Mandela-like rise from political prisoner to world leader.
Critics are skeptical, however, and say Friday’s hastily arranged meeting was planned to assuage U.S. fears about backsliding on human rights issues ahead of Obama’s visit for a regional summit hosted by Myanmar.
The U.S. president spoke to both Suu Kyi and Thein Sein by telephone Thursday, the White House said.
He urged Thein Sein to do all he could “to conclude a national cease-fire” with various ethnic rebel groups in the country and to ensure next year’s polls were “inclusive,” the White House added.
Thein Sein came to power after Myanmar’s last election in 2010, a poll that was boycotted by the NLD and widely regarded as flawed.
Next year is set to be the first election the NLD have stood in since 1990, when the party won by a landslide but were denied the right to rule by the military, which ignored the result.
The Irrawaddy reported that most of those sat around the table Friday were generals or former generals.
Last Mod: 31 Ekim 2014, 17:27