Role of State Counselor created to allow Aung San Suu Kyi a role in government
Suu Kyi is leader of the ruling party but constitutionally barred from the highest office
Party leader and longtime democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi has been given a position in Myanmar’s government – one created especially for her.
The post of State Counselor was created by the Hluttaw, Myanmar’s parliament, over the objections of the military’s representatives, which hold a quarter of the body’s seats. It allows her to “contact ministries, departments, organizations, associations and individuals” in an official capacity, and makes her accountable to parliament, Myanmar’s state media reports.
While Suu Kyu is barred from holding the office of president, the new position is widely expected to allow her to rule by proxy.
The military, which held power for decades, says that the position violates the separation of powers laid out in the country’s constitution.
Military Member of Parliament Maung Maung said that the bill, which was pushed through the Upper and Lower Houses by the newly-elected majority government of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, amounted to “democratic bullying,” the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
Suu Kyi, who has been the figurehead of the at-times banned party throughout its existence, is barred from becoming the country’s president by virtue of a clause written into the constitution which excludes anyone with family members who hold foreign nationality. Both of Suu Kyi’s adult sons are British citizens, as was her late husband.
Others were also critical of the bill, according to the New Light of Myanmar, arguing that the new government’s priorities should lie in enacting laws that benefit the public, such as releasing political prisoners, rather than shoring up its power base.
The party was also criticized for not paying attention to the plight of the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority not recognized nor wanted by Myanmar’s government.
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In November of last year, the NLD swept national elections, taking around 80% of the available seats. Her longtime confidante Htin Kyaw was sworn in as the country’s first democratically-elected president in March, ending 56 years of military rule.