President’s clout ‘is premature’, says NLD

Recent appointments of government ministers to cabinet positions by Burma’s president-elect contravenes domestic law, according to the National League for Democracy, which claims he cannot wield such power until he officially takes office.

The group, which was legally dissolved as a political party last year, released a statement highlighting what it called a discrepancy between Burmese law and practice.

Spokesperson Nyan Win told DVB that the 2008 constitution, which came in to force in February following the new parliament’s first session, “doesn’t approve a person who is still the president-elect to carry out those tasks”.

The constitution, which was rushed through in the weeks following the devastating cyclone Narigs in May 2008, remains a highly controversial document, with critics alleging it contains multiple decrees that are geared towards sidelining the opposition.

The vast majority of cabinet and committee positions have been awarded to ministers with military backgrounds, casting doubt on the ruling junta’s assertions that Burma is transitioning to civilian rule.

The NLD will be urging other parties to echo its disquiet about the alleged illegal manoeuvring by Thein Sein, who had been prime minister of Burma before being elected to the top position on 4 February, although he is yet to be sworn in.

The elected government, led by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won 80 percent of the November 2010 vote, is also yet to be installed.

Despite the disbanding of the NLD, whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi has remained a global icon of Burma’s pro-democracy movement, the party continues to provide strong opposition to the military junta and wields significant influence across Burma.

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