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The parliamentary body tasked with scrutinising the qualifications of the three presidential nominees has presented its findings in a legislative session on Monday.
Htin Kyaw, Henry Van Thio and incumbent Rangoon chief minister Myint Swe were assessed on their eligibility under clause 59 (f) of the 2008 Constitution.
According to the clause, the president and joint vice-presidents must satisfy strict citizenship criteria, with the Burmese citizenship of their parents, children and children’s spouses also crucial in determining a candidate’s eligibility. The prospective candidate must have lived in Burma for at least 20 years and must also display political, economic and military experience.
Of the nominees, ethnic Chin MP Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe have both served in the the country’s armed forces, but Htin Kyaw, a longtime academic and close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi who is expected to become president, has no military background.
Ba Myo Thein, a member of the panel, told DVB that intelligence and leadership skills are crucial for an effective president.
“The question is how we assess someone’s insight on politics, military and economy. My take is that the essential requirements for a presidential nominee are intelligence and the ability to lead. Having these traits will meet the criteria of experience in defence, politics and economic policy,” he said.
“Wisdom and leadership skills are essential in defending one’s country.”
Before they were approved by the panel, there was some debate about the eligibility of Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe—in the former case because of time spent abroad, and in the latter because of family ties to a foreign country.
In the end, however, both men were cleared.
“Henry Van Thio made trips in and out of the country [to New Zealand] on official business. He carried a legitimate passport and made the trips to attend courses and study programmes. The parliament already verified this information before considering him for a nomination,” Ba Myo Thein said.
Myint Swe’s nomination also attracted criticism, as word spread that the spouse of one of his children holds a foreign passport. However, the seven-member panel appeared to be satisfied that the individual in question is no longer a citizen of another country.
The official list of the three approved nominees will be presented before parliamentarians on 15 March, with a final decision expected to be announced on 18 March.
With only two weeks remaining until the National League for Democracy takes the reins of government, a timeline of the power transfer process has been released.
11-14 March – Presidential nominations, scrutiny
15 March – Names of final nominees formally presented to Union Parliament
17-18 March – Appointment of the president and vice-presidents
21 March – President submits list of ministries
23 March – Incoming and outgoing governments meet
24 March – Presenting the list of proposed ministers
25 March – Discussion, approval of proposed ministers
28-29 March – Ministers, attorney general, auditor general sworn in
30 March – Handing over presidential powers to the new president
31 March – New president addresses the parliament