Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will come face to face with fellow presidential hopefuls on Friday afternoon. Namely Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) chair Shwe Mann and presidential incumbent Thein Sein.
But Suu Kyi’s bid rests on the possibility of constitutional change. The Nobel laureate has pushed for the show down with the former military generals in the hope of breaking the charter reform impasse.
Meeting the press on Thursday night, Suu Kyi said she welcomed the opportunity, despite two added guests, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party leader Aye Maung, representing ethnic parties, and upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint.
“I think it is a good sign,” Suu Kyi began. “It was the Union Parliament’s proposition [to call the meeting]. But this wasn’t my exact suggestion. I proposed in 2013, more than a year ago, for a quadripartite dialogue.
“However, the Union Parliament suggested the talks should be six-way and we agreed to that. There was nothing to object about including the parliament’s house speakers and an ethnic MPs representative.”
The additions see Suu Kyi pitted against four members of the ruling USDP, as well as the leader of the army that backs it.
Twenty five percent of seats in Burma’s parliament are reserved for the military, meaning the armed forces effectively have veto power over amendments to the constitution, which require a 75 percent parliamentary yes vote to pass.
Suu Kyi wants her rivals to commit to continuing reform talks.
“It is a good sign that the president has agreed to the Union Parliament’s proposal to facilitate the dialogue,” Suu Kyi told reporters. “But I see that it is also important that the dialogue must continue. Only then we will be able to achieve outcomes that can serve the interest of the country.”
The National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the 2010 election that installed the current government, a vote widely believed to have been neither free nor fair.
The party ran in a series of bi-elections in 2012, however, winning forty three of the forty four seats it contested.
Suu Kyi has said that the NLD would not rule out boycotting the upcoming election set for November, should alleged bias against her party remain.