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The National League for Democracy (NLD) said on Thursday that it had not decided on its nominations for Union Parliament’s four speaker roles, contrary to reports in international media.
“We are scrutinising and interviewing individuals as we consider whether to nominate them [for parliament speaker positions] but we haven’t yet told them as this is not yet final,” party spokesperson Win Htein told DVB.
On Wednesday newswire AFP reported the names of two of the election-winning party’s selections for the upper and lower house speaker roles, as well as their deputies. Identified were two of the party’s own MPs – Mahn Win Khaing Than and executive member Win Myint.
The report cited the information to NLD spokesperson Nyan Win, who indicated that an unidentified MP from the Arakanese National Party (ANP) and an unnamed ethnic-Kachin MP from the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) would take the lesser roles as deputies.
The speakers of Burma’s bicameral parliament hold significant power in Naypyidaw. Shwe Mann, as the incumbent lower house speaker, has used the position to shape the legislative agenda and build support among parliamentarians from different parties. The two senior speakers also join the National Defence and Security Council, which retains control over three key security ministries: home affairs, border affairs and defence.
The NLD holds an outright majority in both of Burma’s parliamentary houses, giving it the power to make the appointments.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, who was reported to be the NLD’s candidate for the upper house speakership is the grandson of Mahn Ba Khaing, a Karen leader killed alongside Aung San in his assassination in 1947. The Karen statesman said he was not aware of any discussion linking him to the office.
“I only learnt about that when I saw it on AFP news but I haven’t been officially informed anything yet. So it is likely I’m just a nominee so far. If I am appointed to the position, I will focus my work on bringing about development in the country and ethnic equality,” he said.
The would-be appointments were considered reflective of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s stated desire to assemble a conciliatory administration, inclusive of Burma’s many ethnic minorities and disparate political tribes. The NLD hopes to be able to win the favour of large ethnic political parties, in particular the ANP, which scored well at Burma’s general election in November.
This week the ANP released a fiery statement criticising the NLD. The Arakanese nationalists demanded to lead any minority government formed in the state’s parliament, where it falls just short of an outright majority.
The ANP also demanded that the incoming NLD government appoints an ethnic Arakanese from the party to become the next chief minister, a powerful position to determine a state’s development.