Burmese FM ‘to run for parliament’

Burma’s foreign minister Nyan Win will run for parliament in elections later this year, he reportedly told the ASEAN chief at a summit in Hanoi yesterday.

In conversation with Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Nyan Win said that he is eyeing a role in a post-election Burmese parliament. He held a similar conversation with Singaporean foreign minister George Yeo, according to Burma analyst Larry Jagan who is at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and spoke with both diplomats.

“Nyan Win doesn’t know when he will run,” Jagan said. “All the procedures are being followed at the moment, and then there will be nomination of candidates once the election has been declared”.

The ruling junta in Burma is yet to announce a date for the country’s first polls in 20 years, but has said that they will be sometime in the second half of this year.

Nyan Win reportedly made no mention of which party he will join but, said Jagan, “it will definitely be with the USDP – all the other ministers are running with the party and [Nyan Win] is certainly not going to be with any other minor party”.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is headed by Burmese prime minister Thein Sein, and is widely tipped to win what critics of the junta have decried as a sham election intended to cement military rule in Burma.

The appointment of a number of current cabinet ministers to positions within the USDP appears part of a plan by the government to extend its control over the country beyond the elections, despite promises that a new ‘civilian’ government will take the reins. The constitution guarantees around a quarter of parliamentary seats to the military prior to voting, and the only viable opposition has been reduced to a handful of parties.

Nyan Win’s exact role in the parliament remains unclear. Jagan said that “the feeling is that he’d be in the National Parliament and not a provincial chief justice”, although this was apparently not explicitly stated during his conversation with Pitsuwan and Yeo.

Rumours began circulating earlier this month that a 20 million kyat (US$20,000) house was being built in Bago division Zigon township to accommodate Nyan Win, and fuelled speculation that he would stand for parliament in Zigon. Nyan Win is a native of the township’s Laldwin village.

There will be four parliaments introduced after the elections: the National Parliament, the Union Parliament, the Peoples’ Parliament and the Administration Regions Parliament.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said earlier this month that progress had been made by the country’s Election Commission (EC) on the specifics of the voting procedures.

“The [EC] chairman and the commission members…defined constituencies, made lists of eligible voters, designated places for polling stations, and held discussions on electoral matters,” it said, but gave no further details on when the information would be made public.

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