Despite a constitutional roadblock, there is still a chance that Aung San Suu Kyi can become Myanmar’s next leader, reports Belinda Cranston.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s dream of becoming Myanmar’s next president is not necessarily over, despite an article in the country’s constitution preventing her from standing for the presidency.
A committee charged with reviewing Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution is submitting its recommended changes during the next session of parliament, which began on 11 September.
Of particular interest to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, (NLD) is a military drafted clause that bars her from standing for presidency ahead of the 2015 national elections, because her late husband and children are foreigners.
The main disagreement within the Joint Committee to Review the Constitution is whether to propose changing section 436, which gives the military a veto over constitutional change.
Committee members have told The Myanmar Times only three military representatives were opposed to reducing the threshold for constitutional change from 75 per cent to a two-thirds majority.
“That is the normal majority that you would expect in most democracies around the world,” said Trevor Wilson, a visiting fellow at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, who served as Australia’s ambassador to Myanmar from 2000 to 2003.
“So that would bring their constitution more in line with other, so-called democratic constitutions.”
A concerted campaign organised earlier this year by the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi collected five million signatures petitioning change to certain clauses of the constitution.
Even if the NLD is disappointed with recommendations the committee hands down, Mr Wilson doesn’t believe the party will replace Suu Kyi with someone who can legally run for president.
“There will be no change in NLD leadership unless Suu Kyi decides she wants to go,” he said.
Health reasons could decide that for her, he added.
Given her popularity and nation-wide profile, it’s unlikely the NLD would want to replace Suu Kyi with someone who can legally contest the leadership.
“The NLD has never had any plan for someone to deputise for Suu Kyi or be ready to succeed her,” Wilson said.
“They respect her. They would never think of challenging her leadership or her position.
“Because she has such authority and respect, to have her as the leader of the party is still incredibly important in an election.”