With the date fast approaching for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to take power, efforts to portray the party and its former foes as working cordially together towards a smooth transfer of power have faltered, according to politicians and officials familiar with the situation.
“She believed that she would be able to work with the military, but after the last meeting with the commander-in-chief, she realised that she cannot negotiate with them,” said a senior NLD Upper House lawmaker briefed on the talks. “It’s quite clear that she has moved on from waiting for the military to collaborate.”
Talks between the NLD and the military began soon after Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in a historic election on November 8, heralding the country’s first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962. But Suu Kyi has become frustrated with the intransigence of the military on issues ranging from a constitutional amendment that would allow her to become president to the location of the handover ceremony before the start of the new government on April 1, say sources in her camp.
General Tin San Naing, the spokesman for military MPs, declined to comment on the details of negotiations. The military has stressed its belief that it has a vital role to play in politics until the transition to democracy is secure, and had worried that changing the constitution quickly could set a dangerous precedent.
Myanmar’s junta handed power to a semi-civilian government made up of ex-generals in 2011, after nearly 50 years of military rule, but the constitution it drafted left the military with considerable power.
As well as a clause that effectively bans Suu Kyi from becoming president because her children are British citizens, the constitution also gives the military three powerful ministries and 25 per cent of the seats in parliament that amounts to a veto over any constitutional change. The charter will force the NLD government to work with the military.