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Burma‘s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi has held talks on the transfer of power with army chief Min Aung Hlaing, before a parliament dominated by lawmakers from her National League for Democracy (NLD) convenes for the first time next week.
It was the second meeting between the pair since Suu Kyi’s party won nearly 80 percent of contested seats at a historic election last November – a victory that seems poised to give Burma its first democratically elected government in decades.
The military is Burma‘s single most-powerful institution, experts say, and anyone who wants to hold power needs its cooperation.
The country’s 2008 junta-drafted constitution guarantees the armed forces a quarter of the seats in the parliament, a constitutional veto and three security ministries.
“Both sides cordially exchanged views on transition and peace and stability in the post-election period, the parliamentary affairs, the formation of the new government,” said a statement in English posted on Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page on Tuesday morning. The meeting took place on Monday.
The talks lasted for about two hours and included top aides from both the military and the NLD.
The constitution bars Suu Kyi from becoming president because her children have British citizenship. The NLD leader has vowed to appoint a ceremonial president and lead the country nonetheless, “staying above the president”.
One of her party’s top priorities – and bone of contention between the NLD and the army – is a constitutional amendment to allow Suu Kyi to become president, although NLD leaders have vowed not to antagonise the military and push for a gradual, rather than immediate, change.
Suu Kyi has stunned the world since the election by swiftly reaching out to her former foes, including Than Shwe, the former leader of the junta that had ruled the country for 49 years until it gave way to semi-civilian government in 2011.
Analysts focused their attention on one rare attendee of the meeting, Tin Myo Win, Suu Kyi’s long-time personal physician.
He typically does not attend senior level NLD meetings, but has for months been the subject of speculation about whether he would be the party’s presidential candidate due to his closeness to Suu Kyi.
The doctor is an NLD loyalist and former political prisoner. He was one of the few people allowed to visit Suu Kyi when she was under house arrest.