Yangon: Myanmar’s president has urged the creation of a new ministry for Aung San Suu Kyi’s state advisor position, official media reported today, a move that will deepen her influence and likely rile the powerful army.
Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency by the military-drafted constitution despite having led her pro-democracy party to a landslide victory in November.
She has instead hoovered up a slew of other senior positions, including foreign minister, president’s officer minister, and the specially-devised role of state counsellor, which gives her vaguely-defined powers to guide parliamentary affairs.
The broad array of powers across government has helped the
veteran activist fulfil a pledge to rule “above” her presidential proxy and close ally Htin Kyaw.
Shortly after taking office she used her role as state counsellor to announce a major political prisoner release in April.
She has also met with a host of foreign dignitaries and today accompanied Htin Kyaw on a trip to Laos, his first international visit as president.
The proposal for a ministry to support her role “is intended to speed up the government’s efforts at national reconciliation, internal peace, national development and the rule of law”, the English language state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar reported today.
Parliamentary debate on the proposal is set to take place next week.
That discussion will likely feature objections from military MPs who registered strong opposition when the state counsellor position was created specifically for Suu Kyi.
Other MPs expressed bemusement at the plans.
“A new ministry is not really needed for the national reconciliation and peace process. But I won’t stand against the proposal,” said Ba Sein from the Arakan National Party.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy can comfortably pass most of its bills because of its hefty majority.
Myanmar’s first civilian government in generations faces formidable challenges in a nation wracked with poverty, corruption and conflict after decades of military domination.
Few concrete policy details have emerged in the administration’s initial weeks in power, although it has vowed to streamline the bureaucracy by combining ministries and cutting the number of cabinet posts.
The government also freed scores of political prisoners and those facing controversial trials for rallies against the previous quasi-civilian leadership.